Thursday, September 30 2021

Quote of the Day

Her visor was close up against her face, a sleek glass pane across her eyes. The prism technology and coating on the visor made it anti-reflective, obscured the AugR display from the outside, and disrupted face-detecting software. There were cameras on the front and back, so I had a full 360-degree view of the world around her head. (She had buzzed her long black hair off to avoid obscuring the camera’s view.)

T.X. Watson, “The Boston Hearth Project,” Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation

Gantt charts are doomy

I took a moment yesterday to put together a timeline in Notion of exactly how this writing process is supposed to unfold if I only have a month to write a short story.

I know that in school I only had about a week and a half to turn in a short story. Maybe that was why they were so bad. My upfront figuring out process seems to take a lot longer than fumbling around in draft after draft, although I actually seem to get somewhere using it. I really really hope I can pull this off.

On to step 1: Figuring out a theme, and what the main character will learn over the course of the story.


In a hurry

Clearly, I have a lot of work to get to, so my blog posts will be a lot shorter through the month of October.

Wednesday, September 29 2021

Quote of the Day

I don’t want easy anymore. It’s worthless and the shine doesn’t last.

Kim Harrison, The Undead Pool

Writing solarpunk resources

The research continues, and I might be starting–just a bit–to get an idea of the genre conventions for solarpunk. I went looking for resources and found these here:

“Solarpunk” & the Pedagogical Value of Utopia

Spectrum London Writers’ Group Presents: Solarpunk Day

It’s a little slippery to get a handle on, because it’s not just a genre, it’s a movement and most of the materials I’m finding are more generalized to explain the movement as a whole. And it’s still so shiny new that I’m getting the feeling that it hasn’t truly defined itself yet.

Here is my stab at a preliminary list of conventions:

  • gotta have tech–low, high, old, new, future or present, it’s got to be a component of solarpunk
  • the tech and other solutions should be distributed / decentralized and often DIY
  • there absolutely will be conflict, but since solarpunk is “a rebellion against the war on hope,” I think a happy ending is in order.
  • nature and greenery as a primary feature of important settings
  • it has to have a post-capitalist economy or be about the fight to move beyond capitalism
  • community is front and center
  • it’s got to be in the future–whether 10 mins from now or 2000 years from now
  • characters believe solving systemic causes of inequality is the future (and act accordingly)
  • diverse characters
  • themes:
    • there is action to be taken and a difference to be made even in the face of overwhelming odds
    • hope is a radical act
    • humanity can achieve comfortable living for all
    • civilization allows for indigenous / small cultures to be integrated not repressed
    • climate action doesn’t mean scarcity or giving things up
    • humans are part of the natural world, not separate from it
    • technology is for the betterment of people and nature, not corporations
    • we cannot survive the future without strong, integrated, self-sufficient-yet-connected communities

All of this isn’t nothing, but it’s pretty light on plot points or specific scenes that must happen. Once again, maybe the genre isn’t there yet, but my next step is to start reading solarpunk short stories and see if there are any repeating motifs.


Oh hey, a new solarpunk anthology open for submissions

Solarpunk Sunscapes: Optimistic Visions of the Future

So, um…I guess I better make a go of it? One month to write and finish a story……yikes….let’s see what I can make happen.

Tuesday, September 28 2021

Quote of the Day

It takes an idiot to do cool things. That’s why it’s cool.

FLCL

Solar-lunking?

I spent yesterday coming through Our Changing Climate’s Why This Gives Me Hope for the Future (ft. @Saint Andrewism) video. Here are all the references to nifty SolarPunk things I found in it.

Solarpunk artists & writers

The ‘Vegetal’ Cities of Luc Schuiten: A Sustainability Fantasy

J Queiroz

Dear Alice – do we love it for awesome people involved, lovely animation and aesthetics, and great solarpunk portrayal, or do we hate it because it’s capitalism trying to appropriate the movement?

Eric Hunting

Gwenn Germain

Jessica Woulfe

Thomas Chamberlain-Keene

Solarpunk tech – the excitement of the 1950s except for everyone and sustainable

The Oceanbird

Hybrid Air Vehicles

Related & nifty

The Obscure Cities: An Introduction

I was a little worried here that I’m not starting with the more “foundational” solarpunk texts, but I figure, I’ll get around to them. The delight in just picking a point and starting is discovery and rabbit holes. I hope this way will give me ideas as I browse the genre.


Why Must We Turn Everything Into A Neurosis

A friend sent me this link, and it definitely lands for me. I have gotten heaps and piles of things done over the last few years, but there hasn’t been a concrete manifestation, so it doesn’t feel like accomplishment. It also underscores again how I need to write some shorts so I don’t drive myself mad with un-manifestation.

On the Source of Our Drive to Get Things Done

Contrary to the critical assumption that the drive to produce is primarily culturally mediated, these results hint at something that many feel intuitively: there’s something deeply human, and therefore deeply satisfying, about succeeding in making one’s intentions manifest concretely in the world.

Cal Newport

Monday, September 27 2021

Quote of the Day

Behind me Loveland Castle was whole again, albeit a dumpy little building falling apart–one man’s dream of nobility crumbling from neglect. Noble ideas tended to do that when left alone.

Kim Harrison, Ever After

You disappoint me, technology

While I had my doubts about lab-grown meat (how could it possibly have the same micronutrients? also organs and bones are are super good for us), It still sounded like a reasonable alternative for part of the time, at least. Except, I guess it’s not really an alternative at all.

Lab-grown meat is supposed to be inevitable. The science tells a different story.


A trick that might work

So a few months ago, I bought heirloom masa harina to use as a substitute for cornmeal. It didn’t actually work all that great, because the masa harina is ground super fine. So I bought some posole to grind into cornmeal for the coarser texture. Which I haven’t tried yet–basically I want the nixtimalization but I also want tasty cornbread and jonnycakes.

Since my nutritionist has suggested that I do a gluten-free trial for 2 weeks, this has come back around again. And I think this time I have a new, better, strategy, based on recipes like this one:

Masa Harina Cornbread

I can buy regular heirloom cornmeal from the East Coast, then mix it in with the masa harina. This feels like it will go much better than the 1:1 swap I was attempting.

Of course, a lot of these recipes have some added wheat flour, but maybe if I find a 100% cornmeal recipe and switch out half for masa harina that will go better. But I’m eager to try and see what the results are.


Being inspired

I’ve found a couple of solarpunk references that I’m going to be exploring this week, just digging into the genre and getting a feel for its conventions. I found this article with lots of references:

Solarpunk Is Not About Pretty Aesthetics. It’s About the End of Capitalism

I also found this YouTube video, which will lead me to lots of interesting ideas:

Why This Gives Me Hope for the Future (ft. @Saint Andrewism)

Thanks to Our Changing Climate for crediting art and resources in his video, that makes my job much easier.

Solarpunk seems to be having a little bit of a moment, which is exciting!

Thursday, September 23 2021

Quote of the Day

There is something so special in the early leaves drifting from the trees–as if we are all to be allowed a chance to peel, to refresh, to start again.

Ruth Ahmed

Starting again

I’m re-reading Rachel and Trent and I can’t stop. They are so good, I get lost in them. I’ve spent hours over the last few days just sinking into the Hallows. 

Why don’t I sink into thoughts about my own book?

Do I want to write something more like the books that I love to live in? Sure I have this grand idea for a very dramatic, weighty novel, but how do I want to tell it? I could tell it more like Kim Harrison and less like Kim Stanley Robinson. 

This is why I need to write the short stories. Not just to get better–though I need that too–but to try on some writing styles, play in some genres. See if I want to build a world that persists over many stories. See what themes I like best. See if I want romance or adventure or moral subplots. 

Yesterday I watched a Neil Gaiman lecture where he said that he wanted to write a book when he was young that he knew he wasn’t ready for. It took 20 years for him to be ready, but eventually he was. And he worked on it, little by little, over the years, visiting graveyards and thinking about it. 

I think this novel I have in mind isn’t a project. It’s an adventure. It’s a magnum opus, a work of a lifetime, put together piece by piece. Maybe it’ll be done sooner than 20 years from now, but I don’t think time matters with this one. Experience matters. Exploring matters. Craft and growing matters. It’s so big. What I want the final work to accomplish, to encompass, to address is so vast. It can’t happen in the small space of just my head. It’s much bigger than that.

It’s time to explore.


The newest blue

I stumbled over the video on YouTube, and it ended up being super interesting.

Testing The First Blue Pigment In Over 200 years…

The development and trial of YinMn blue.


Suck it billionaires

NASA is so much smarter and better than you.

Solar Electric Propulsion Makes NASA’s Psyche Spacecraft Go


Loving this

Even if it is too little too late.

UArizona Launches Center to Advance Resilience of Native Nations, Address Environmental Challenges

The Indigenous Resilience Center is University of Arizona’s commitment to giving back to local tribes who have stewarded this land for millennia and who have endured and sacrificed so much. It is critical that Native nations drive the research questions based on their priorities and long-standing local knowledge, and that the approaches involve decolonized and indigenized approaches with Indigenous scientists actively leading these efforts. Furthermore, the resilience partnerships will aim to involve students who want to give back to their communities through community-based projects that are action oriented and solution driven.

It has occurred to me, while reading The Uninhabitable Earth, that it is very likely that the Narragansett’s tribal land will be underwater if things continue unabated…

Wednesday, September 22 2021

Quote of the Day

Being poor is not an indication of potential or worth. It’s a lack of resources.

Kim Harrison, A Perfect Blood

Understanding a thing finally!

Now that The Uninhabitable Earth is in my researching rear-view, I’m moving on to more specific research for my novel. I’m still a little shaky on worldbuilding, so I decided to take a chance on MasterClass, and watched N.K. Jemisin’s class on Writing SFF. Completely worth it! I actually understand what I need to do now, with a simple, repeatable process. Her explanation of power dynamics in a society alone was worth the price of the whole year of access to the site.

Looking over my old work with this new information, I can see now exactly what I was missing and why a lot of my stories seemed to take place on a low-budget set instead of in a world.

I’m watching the worldbuilding section of some of the other writing classes on MasterClass to see if there are any gems in there, but Nora’s process is going to be basis of how I’m going to start worldbuilding.

It’s amazing seeing these pieces start to all come together. It’s amazing to be able to look at my stories and finally see what was missing and how I could improve them.

I can’t wait to get to work.


Tattoo

I’ve been re-reading some of Kim Harrison’s The Hallows series lately, because they are comforting as a warm coat in late fall. My probiotics have been messing my guts all up, I have no idea right now what is “safe” to eat, so I’ve been in pain a lot and having to spend a couple hours a day re-grouping. I’ve lowered my dose, so hopefully that will help.

I’m in the middle of A Perfect Blood, and Rachel just got a tattoo (spoilers, I guess, but it’s a pretty minor plot point externally). It made me think about my tattoo. Which I haven’t. In a really, really long time.

There was lots of symbolism talk in the book about the final design of Rachel’s tattoo. And even though I’ve read this book at least 5 times I’ve never connected it to the symbolism of tattoos in general, or how I got mine without having any real clear idea about what it meant at all.

Yeah….I’m wearing forever marks on my skin that I stole from a tiny detail piece of an artist’s painting of a parrot. I don’t remember the artist, nor could I probably find the painting. The detail was not part of the parrot itself, it was a little circular symbol. I don’t have any idea why I wanted this kind of design. I didn’t know then. At the time I was big on following my instinct and figuring it out later. I never figured it out. Here it is:

Why those colors? I don’t know. What kind of flower is that? I don’t know. Is it a 6 pointed star or 3 loopy links locked together or 2 stacked triangles? I don’t know. Why are there 6 little balls? No clue. Why is the whole thing outlined in little half-circles? Why indeed.

It’s like 15 years later and I got nothing. I originally got the tattoo as a reminder that I didn’t have to go back to being a version of myself that I didn’t like. I honestly have no idea that I ever needed that reminder. I never looked at my tattoo and had this great moment of realization about My Life and Where I Was Going and Who I Am. It’s a thing on me and honestly, I’m reasonably mystified as to why it’s there.

At least it’s pretty?

Maybe when I’m 85 I’ll be able to look at it and say, oh yes, I see now how that fit into my life. Maybe it was a waste of however much I paid for it. ($300?) Maybe someday a fairy will conjure with it and trap me in the fairy realm forever and I’ll be like oops, maybe I should have figured out what this symbol meant a long time ago….


Resources

Another Rachel Mariana Morgan realization. Rachel always tries to do the Right Thing, to stand up when it’s time to stand up and not let bad behavior slide. And, Kim Harrison makes clear, she expects that of others.

It’s one of the things I love about the character, because that’s something I wish I did in my life more often. But I did have the realization today that she has a lot of resources to back her up when standing up to power greater than her own doesn’t work out. She’s got the help of entire government agencies, and lots of people who have power and money and skills that mean she always has a place to turn when she loses everything.

This isn’t inherently a bad thing. It’s just a thing to remember if you want to stand up and are afraid even when inspired by characters like Rachel. It’s a lot easier to stand up when you have resources.


Bad oil

I clicked on a clickbait-y headline on YouTube, and actually found a well-researched thing. Why is food so problematical? Am I going to have to search the store for duck fat now?

The $100 Billion Dollar Ingredient making your Food Toxic

Monday, September 20 2021

Quote of the Day

You need a new hobby, Rachel. Something other than nasty little men with visions of world domination. 

Kim Harrison, Pale Demon

Omega-3 fats are really really great

So my nutritionist says. And mine seem to be low. I eat seafood, but apparently not enough. I was cooking with walnut oil for a while, because that is supposed to be a good source of omega-3s. But there are types, my friends. There are types.

Why The Omega-3s In Walnuts Are Not The Same As The Ones In Fish And Algae

And I just bought a whole new bottle of walnut oil. Sigh.


Downgraded humans

This phrase is astounding.

The result of all this is what Harris calls “human downgrading”: A decade of evidence now suggests that digital tech is eroding our attention, which is eroding our moral attention, which is eroding our empathy.

 Sigal Samuel, It’s hard to be a moral person. Technology is making it harder., Vox.com

There aren’t exactly any big surprises in this article, but I’ve noticed the lack of empathy out in the Real World, not just online. It’s…interesting knowing it is partly technology to blame.


Starting to find the ways

I stumbled over the idea of solarpunk a number of years ago, and it intrigued me because while I had loved cyberpunk in the 90s, watching the present turn into the future of cyberpunk was a lot less fun in reality than in novels. I was annoyed that sci-fi wasn’t moving beyond cyberpunk to the next vision for most of the 2000s. A couple years ago I heard of solarpunk, and realized that finally, we had.

I know I want to write about hope mostly because I’m sick of despair. Also despair is about as motivating as a traffic jam. We need to be moved to act, I feel, not moved to give up. But that was just me appreciating the idea of solarpunk, not really trying to be in it to write about it.

Now I’m trying to be in it to write about it. And I found these things:

From Afrofuturism to ecotopia: A climate-fiction glossary

Is Becky Chambers the Ultimate Hope for Science Fiction?

The more we talk about tea, the more Chambers and I realize we’re circling a fundamental truth about the genre: Tea—cross-cultural and civilizing; steeped in historical trade; revealing, in the leaves it leaves behind, of possible futures—might be the most science-fictional of all beverages. Long before Star Trek’s Captain Picard asked for “tea, Earl Grey, hot,” the Infinite Improbability Drive in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was being powered, Douglas Adams wrote, by “a fresh cup of really hot tea.” More recently, there’s Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta, about a tea master in a water-scarce dystopia, and novellas like The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard. Ann Leckie made tea, its rituals and its trade, central to her Imperial Radch books, one of the more important trilogies in modern times. Even Yoda, in swampy exile, enjoys steaming mugs of things. As does Baby Yoda, his serene sippingmemorialized in a thousand memes.

Dreamforge: A Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

A few of what I’m sure will be many more….

Friday, September 17 2021

Quote of the Day

What a sad thing men are. Can’t do nothing good without being so weak we have to mess it up. Can’t build something up without tearing it down.

It ain’t the Spackle that drove us to the end.

It was ourselves.

Patrick Ness, Monsters of Men

Will we stop? “Thinking like a planet” is so alien to the perspectives of modern life—so far from thinking like a neoliberal subject in a ruthless competitive system—that the phrase sounds at first lifted from kindergarten…This goes beyond thinking like a planet, because the planet will survive, however terribly we poison it; it is thinking like a people, one people, whose fate is shared by all.

David Wallace-Wells, The Uninhabitable Earth

Two quotes for today

Yesterday I finished reading & taking notes on The Uninhabitable Earth. This morning I finished Monsters of Men, the last book in Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series.

It’s been a journey, reading those two things together. One lays out the destruction we’ve caused out of greed, willful blindness, and the lie that we can control nature. It asks if we’ll stop, if we can change and mobilize, or if we’ll just keeping causing more and more suffering. The other lays out a story of the destruction we can cause out of a need for control and is asking if we can ever transcend that.

Now that I’ve finished them both, I realize I was kind of hoping for the YA series to tell me if there was any hope that we can change, that we can come up with an answer fast enough to keep the climate suffering to a minimum. A big ask, even for the dystopian YA novels that wrestle with these questions.

The answer seems to be that good people can do awful things in the name of love, and that there are some people with so much emptiness that can’t be filled that they will burn everything down just to see the flames. That we can’t ever be in short supply of forgiveness; that we need to know when to keep fighting and when to stop the cycle of violence.

And, apparently, to know when your leaders have gone batshit crazy and the only thing left to do is stop them from brutalizing hundreds or thousands or millions of people.

There is a part of The Uninhabitable Earth that talks about storytelling, and how we (at least we in the West) don’t have a storytelling model that even works in the name of collective action.

…the dilemmas and dramas of climate change are simply incompatible with the kinds of stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, especially in conventional novels, which tend to end with uplift and hope and to emphasize the journey of an individual conscience rather than the miasma of social fate.

Essentially, our stories center around 1 protagonist who has enough agency to change the world. Even in ensemble stories, that’s still a very small number of people working together with very outsize influence. How do we tell stories of a vision of the future where we come together globally to Do A Thing?

…I guess I know some of the things to start noodling on myself if I hope to write solarpunk and hopepunk.


Speaking of collaborative efforts

An article about the end of World War II, and the existential dreads that can’t be filled with consumerism.

The Incredible Shrinking Man Saw Beyond the Material Façade of Post-War Prosperity

For a country ravaged first by depression and then traumatized by war, they not only Built Back Better, they Built Back Awesome. Super-highways; suburbs; G.I. plans for returning soldiers to access college educations and buy those assembly-line, suburban abodes. Plus, a wealth of consumer goods: all-electric kitchens, TV Dinners, Frisbees for the kids and a backyard barbecue for Dad. The cornucopia of prosperity rained down upon the American citizen, and no one would ever be hungry, sad, or frightened, ever again.

Do I have to tell you that that was horseshit? No, of course I don’t.

Dan Persons

Why is food so hard

Everyone says coconut oil is such a great fat to eat. But is it, if you aren’t already healthy?

Does Coconut Oil Kill Probiotics?

I’m not sure this is 100% the full story, honestly. But I don’t think it’s helping me right now, so I shall put it aside for a bit.


Next steps

Now that I’ve finished The Uninhabitable Earth, I am going to move on to take N. K. Jemisin’s MasterClass on SFF Writing! There’s a section in it on worldbuilding that I am really excited to go through and glean some new strategies before I jump into worldbuilding for my Thanksgiving novel.

Wednesday, September 15 2021

Quote of the Day

Mistress Coyle agreed, and Simone set to work, planning the whole thing with the absolute focus on capturing a Spackle and sending it back with a message of peace.

Which seems strange after we’ve killed so many of them to do it, but it’s been obvious since the beginning that wars make no sense. You kill people to tell them you want to stop killing them.

Monsters of men, I think. And women.

Patrick Ness, Monsters of Men

Tired

There’s not much more to say that that. My arm has been sore for a month. It’s slowly getting better but the constant pain is tiring.

The tiredness is teaching me, however, that I can’t work on more than one thing a day. I keep thinking I can do research in the morning and writing in the afternoon or something, but no, over and over again I get to the end of the day and I’ve been able to work on exactly one thing. Maybe that will change in the future when I am less tired, but for now, it stands. Maybe I can work on more than one project at one, but not all in the same day.


Living the solarpunk dream

It’s finally occurred to me what a solarpunk audience wants to see of a solarpunk writer–all the ways the writer is working (beyond writing) to realize the dream of solarpunk itself. This should have been obvious, but I seem to only just now be getting it.

This decision to write short stories has been having interesting effects all over my work.


No links today, just a sore arm, achy back, and the overwhelming desire for a nap. I think another Epsom salt bath is in order this evening.

Tuesday, September 14 2021

Quote of the Day

Doing what’s right should be easy.

It shouldn’t be just another big mess like everything else.

Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go

What games can do when they’re awesome

The Artful Escape

I hope this one comes to GeForce Now because I’d love to play it.

On the eve of his first performance, Francis Vendetti battles with the legacy of a dead folk legend and the cosmic wanderings of his own imagination. Francis, a teenage guitar prodigy, sets out on a psychedelic, multidimensional journey to inspire his stage persona.

Who wouldn’t want to go on this ride?


Solarpunk solarpunk solarpunk

So earlier this year, I was working on reviving an old story from 2015. It revived itself into a cute Romance short story. I stopped working on it, because I had gotten far enough to prove my process worked and it wasn’t in the genre I really want to commit myself to. Well, it wasn’t in one of the genres I want to commit myself to.

Now that I want to add working on some shorts to the mix instead of focusing exclusively on this magnum opus of a novel, I’m realizing that if I want to write solarpunk, I need to start figuring out the genre conventions of it.

So adding on to my study list of The Uninhabitable Earth and MasterClass writing classes is now reading and re-reading solarpunk short stories to get a good handle on what makes a solarpunk story solarpunk.

Oh and I just started working with a nutritionist, who has an entire course to go through as you work with her.

I love research, but wow why is it all that I do, it seems? Surely there’s a point where I know enough to take a stab at writing something….right?