LEGION: Women of Sci-Fi

Legion Women Authors of SciFi

This month on Instafreebie, a group of women writers organized an ebook giveaway. There are amazing stories in this collection (and even two of mine). I hope you take a look and download a bunch… …and as you do, consider the design of a science fiction book cover! One of the interesting side benefits of these giveaways is the ability to view a bunch of covers all together. What do you see? Which books jump out at you? Can you spot problems with book design? I can — a lot of the typography doesn’t work in this size — too small or too convoluted in font selection, making either the name of the book or the name of the author unreadable. Another problem is color — some covers are too muted and lack contrast to stand out in a group. Others have too much detail and are hard to take in at a glance. First impressions matter — readers (as all humans) take in visual information quickly and make judgments based on emotion first (and then come up with reasoned justifications for those feelings). The job of a book cover designer is to make a good first impression, to allow…

What’s in a Cover?

Coding Peter Suddenly Paris 2 Covers

The design of the cover can make the book… or so I was told. Certainly, bad covers don’t contribute to sales. But good covers are difficult. And the thought on cover design has changed over the years… just like fashion. Since I tend to design my own covers (and I’m an artist and a designer), I wanted to put together some ideas, if not rules, to follow and some background of how to think about book cover design. Because if you don’t do your own, you still need to communicate what you want with the person that does. Book Covers Through Time To appreciate a cover, it helps to understand its roots. I won’t go back far, since my genre is science fiction, just a hundred years or so. Consider the cover evolution of Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth”: There is a movement from frills to realism to a strong graphic look of the more modern editions. While for the 1800’s editions, we might find it difficult to identify the genre of this story, by the time we hit 1960s, there is no doubt that this is a science fiction or fantasy novel. The cover alerts…

Word Magic, narrated by Mariah Avix of 600 Second Saga

cool word

Word Magic is a short story prequel to a larger piece of fiction I’m working on about language and its power to shape the world. I love Mariah’s work — she brings magic to my stories and to those of other writers. Please visit her site and subscribe to her work. In the meantime, enjoy this story and follow along with the text below. Word Magic “But I hate that name!” The boy tried to squirrel away from his teacher. “I didn’t ask for your opinion before assigning it to you, Acolyte Will. Names are bestowed based on a quality of need, not emotional preference.” “But you said the best words fire up emotion–” “Your name will do so… in time. Now, you have to get back to work. How many words have you discovered today, Acolyte Will?” The boy stopped squirming and settled down. He looked excited to share his lexical discoveries; it must have been a productive morning. Seeing the boy’s enthusiasm, the teacher settled down next to him. The boy had real word magic talent. It was true that he was lazy and unpredictable with it yet, but he was only a few years old still. In…

New Book: Lizard Girl and Ghost

Lizard Girl & Ghost

This is probably the strangest story I’ve ever written. The idea for the book came from reading endless articles on “singularity” — what would it really mean to pour one’s soul into the machine? What are some implications? What would it feel like? So this story is a cyberpunk adventure into life beyond death as we know it. I hope you’ll give it a try. Here are the first few chapters.

Meditations on Blockchain

Blockchain_Logo

The internet is flooded with contemplations, broodings, and cogitations on Blockchain. One of the possible uses of this technology, Bitcoins and its ilk, has been the reverie, prayer, and speculation engine for endless get rich schemes and the constant fodder for media rumination. But what is it really? The direct answer is that Blockchain is just a digital form of trust. Allow me to walk you through it. Trust has always been the foundation of any society. Early on, when social groups were numbered in low dozens and basically consisted of associations of family members, trust was the currency among the members. You can trust your father-in-law because the survival of his grandkids was in his interest as much as your own, presumably. If a member of the family strayed, everyone knew about and punished the transgression accordingly, including by removing personal trust. But once the social groups grew in size, trust was more difficult to establish — who could remember who did what and to whom? To supplement trust born of personal knowledge, institutional trust was invented: laws, banks, governments, … and of course religious institutions. It no longer mattered if you were not familiar with a stranger, you…

Accidental Horror Story

In the name of the People

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a short story. The idea came to me upon seeing some blog post on how “I Love Lucy” and “Honeymooners” and “M.A.S.H.” are just some of the first shows aliens on a distant planet will watch as part of first contact with Earth. What would those people think of us? Will the humor, dark or slapstick, be lost on them? Would they see us as “good people”? First impressions matter… So I envisioned a world full of pacifists who devise a scheme to protect their planet from hostile aliens by creating content designed especially to scare off visitors from other worlds. It turned out to be a fun short story and I submitted it to one of my favorite publishers: Mariah Axiz of 600 Second Saga. Mariah is a connoisseur of the strange and wonderful; she had published several of my stories in the past; I love her work… I hit submit and waited…and waited. A few days later I got an email back: “This is NOT my kind of story. I don’t do horror…” Horror? What? I don’t write horror stories…well, I did write “The FATOFF Conspiracy”…and “Pigeon” has aspects…