Trina Marie Phillips joined us at Phoenix Comic Con to talk about her work as a futurist. Futurism, for those unfamiliar with our use of the term here, is related to science fiction, but it remains rooted in existing technology and trends, then seeks to be predictive in useful ways.
Liner Notes: Trina mentioned some online resources (and a four-year educational program!) for those interested in working as futurists:
Catch-phrase of the episode: “all we need is a billionaire with a secure facility and a steady supply of monkeys.”
Credits: This episode was recorded by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 16:46 — 11.6MB)
Pick a city and write what you think it will look like in the year 2045.
The City of the Future, edited by Trina Marie Phillips
In the interest of experimenting with metaphor, and our ongoing need to keep writing, we played with the idea of mapping Newton’s Laws onto the process of writing.
Because obviously a wordcount at rest tends to remain at rest…
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:17 — 13.3MB)
Imagine someone is a serial art collector AND a serial artist killer.
Nancy Fulda is back this week to talk with us about the truth, and what do to when it’s stranger than fiction. Sometimes real people’s names are just too cool, and if you were to put them in a book nobody would believe it. Sometimes actual, historical events are so ridiculous there’s no way you can get away with putting them in a story that you expect people to take seriously. And sometimes real science is just not going to be believed by your readers.
So how do you get away with using these things, with writing your stories in true places? Sometimes all it takes is the hanging of the right lantern, but in many cases you must go to great lengths to re-educate the reader without breaking the fourth wall or otherwise knocking them out of the story.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 17:49 — 12.2MB)
Run your character through a double-funnel extruder and see what’s at the end.
Nancy Fulda, herself a lettered student of artificial intelligence, joins us to talk about writing artificial intelligence believably. We fire questions at her so that you don’t have to!
We talk about what’s current, what’s coming, and what it is that we’re all expecting. We also cover some of the things that writers get wrong (at least insofar as they knock the cognoscenti out of the story.)
Liner Notes: Here’s the article Howard mentioned, “Evolving a Conscious Machine,” from the June 1998 Discover. He got the details almost 100% wrong, but the gist of it was still there.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:41 — 36.0MB)
Go to the Internet and look up Bayesian learning, neural networks, and genetic algorithms. Yes, it’s more of a reading prompt.
Rainbows End, by Vernor Vinge, narrated by Eric Conger
(note: Howard got this wrong — no apostrophe at all! And yes, a lantern got hung upon that particular missing bit of punctuation.)
Nancy Fulda, who was a guest on the cast clear back in Season 2, joins us to talk about using the narrative to call out or offset character perceptions. Sometimes the POV character “knows” a thing which is not just incorrect, it is something the reader will recognize as incorrect, and if this isn’t written correctly the reader may get knocked out of the story by the concern that the author might have his or her information wrong.
For instance, one character might refer to a small-arm magazine as a “clip,” while other characters in the story, those more experienced with firearms, know that the word is “magazine.”
Mary talks about the historical fantasy novel she’s writing, set in Regency-era Antigua, and which steps squarely into issues of race. Nancy talks to us a bit about language drift, and about how our understanding about lots of things will change. Brandon then raises the question of using “author’s notes.”
Speaking Of Things The Characters Got Wrong: One of those episodes Nancy was in back in 2009? Yeah, we all got it wrong.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 19:05 — 13.1MB)
Take something that you believe to be false, and write a character with the opposite belief.
Movement, by Nancy Fulda, narrated by Marguerite Kenner
Eric James Stone, Nebula winner and “graduate” of NASA’s Launchpad workshop, joins us to talk about astronomy in our world-building.
We talk about tides, habitable zones, planetary orbits and axial tilts, stellar life-cycles, and other fun factors for authors to take into account. But obviously we can’t teach you everything you need to know about astronomy in 15 minutes, so we wrap with some handy resources for you to begin your continuing education:
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 16:59 — 11.7MB)
Your colonists are going to a world whose axial tilt is different from Earth’s. How are the seasons different?
How much research do you do? Howard’s answer: “Just enough to get by.” In this podcast we talk about why we research, how we research, and when we feel like we’ve researched enough. We also discuss hiding a lack of knowledge, and finding ways to get by without doing truly exhaustive research. Listen closely and you’ll learn why you’ll never be able to know enough, why the epic fantasy horse is a lot like a motorcycle, and whether or not one of us really needs therapy.
This week’s Writing Excuses Book of the Week: Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (12.0MB)