Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

3/21/2014

Fast Fiction

Filed under: Fiction,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

In this case, really fast.

I’ll be honest, I’m not normally a huge fan of gimmicky flash fiction, but I do make exceptions.
The basic idea is to write a story with the fewest number of words possible.  According to literary legend, Ernest Hemingway did it with just six words; “For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn”.  That was allegedly to win a bet with Ezra Pound, as I recall.  In any case, it’s still a gimmick and one that’s gotten a little…
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6/21/2013

425 Free eBooks

Filed under: Fiction,Fun,Red Herrings,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:19 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Wow, what a busy week!

I’m sorry that my weekly post of something fun and free isn’t more than this or more in keeping with a theme for the month, but, well, it’s the best I can do this week.  I’m not absolutely sure that I haven’t used this link before, in fact, but, if I did, I’m sure they’ve since added more material to their site.

This week, I’ve got a link to 425 free ebooks!

They’ve got everything from classics of…
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11/23/2012

Rules for Writing

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Fiction,Fun,NaNoWriMo,Red Herrings,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 4:51 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

The first rule is to WRITE!

No, seriously, in honor of NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d link to things about writing and inspiration this month and, even though, I’m no great fan of rules, especially about writing, some people are.  So, with that in mind, I thought I’d share the Guardian’s Ten Rules for Writing Fiction.
They asked several authors, some of whom I am more familiar than others, and got each of them to list their “10 Rules for Writing”.  Some are funny, and some are a little too truthful, but one of them may help you break out of writer’s block, or just whatever writing rut you may have worked yourself into this month.
My favorite of the bunch, outside of all ten of Leonard Elmore’s rules, is “The way to write a book is to actually write a book. A pen is useful, typing is also good. Keep putting words on the page.”  That comes from Anne Enright, who I confess I have not heard of before, but who is entire correct.
So, get back to writing, okay?

Well, get back to writing after you click the link and read the other rules they have there.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself."
   --Abraham Maslow

7/13/2012

Small Demons

Filed under: Fiction,Fun,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:59 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Today is Friday the 13th.

In the past, I’ve posted some of the possible history of the negative superstitions around Friday the 13th, but I’m not going to mention that today.  I think it’s unseemly, especially since I’ve already talked about the history and traditions surrounding Friday the 13th earlier in the year.
No, I thought I’d share something else.

Have you ever wanted to visit the restaurant in your favorite novel?  How about collect all the magazines they mention?  Or, possibly, even get some special item of clothing or unusual houseware item worn or used by your favorite character?  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a website that had all that little bit of data sliced, diced and indexed for your browsing pleasure?  Well, as it turns out, there is.  It’s a genius little site called Small Demons.  You need to sign in, but, so far, it’s free.  It’s a fun site with all the “stuff” in popular novels, including my favorites from William Gibson, with links to where you can find everything.  I mean, really, they have everything from restaurants to shops to particular brands to, well, everything.  Everything that’s branded or mentioned by specific location is pretty much there.  It’s brilliant.

And, what the hell, it’s Friday, right?  You weren’t doing anything anyway, so why not go check it out?

7/6/2012

Summer Reading

Filed under: Art,Fiction,Fun,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:38 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Don’t worry, I promise it will be a fun list.

Hey, remember when you were a kid in school and they’d give you a Summer reading list?  You know, those painful “classics” that we were forced to read because they were supposed be so good, but were really terrible to read because of the archaic language and tired, dusty old plots?
Well, these are nothing like that.

One of my favorite magazines, Wired, has put together a list of new-ish science-fiction and fantasy reading for your Summer vacation.  While I have to admit that I haven’t actually read any of these books yet, I can vouch for the authors who are all pretty much the latest thing in science-fiction.  (And, in some cases, the latest thing for the second or third time in their, hopefully, very long careers.)

So, if you manage to take some time off this Summer, grab one of these and give them a try!

6/29/2012

Writing Science Fiction for the Government

Filed under: Art,Fiction,Fun,News and Current Events,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:06 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Yeah, it’s kind of a mind-bender, isn’t it?

So, the few regular readers who are left at this sad, old, mostly-neglected blog know that I’m a big fan of science-fiction.  And, when I have time, I read a lot.  Granted, since college I think I read more non-fiction than fiction, but, still, I manage to hammer away at it and more than exceed the national average of three to four books per year.  Also, I tend to think of myself as a bit of an amateur futurist.  By that I mean that I like to look at news stories and speculate on just where that particular trend is headed and what it will mean for us in the future.  As it turns out, the U.S. government has similar leanings.
Now, I’ve heard stories about how they gathered together some great sci-fi authors of the moment to brain storm some alien invasion defense ideas, but, frankly, that’s old hat and, well, kind of boring to me.  I mean, I think the alien invasion thing is kind of played out now, don’t you?  What’s far more interesting to me is a recent story from Wired about science-fiction book pitches to assorted U.S. Government agencies.  Apparently, the government can be more forward thinking than you might imagine from more recent news and a number of agencies have solicited book pitches from science-fiction authors based on the agencies’ area of specialty.  Yes, basically what I’m saying is they were looking for propaganda pieces cleverly disguised as sci-fi novels.
And, shockingly, some of them actually sounded like they might be good.  Imagine, your tax dollars finally put to good use; writing compelling, new science-fiction!

In any case, it’s Friday and you’re bored, so why not go check it out?  You might be surprised by who pitched what to the government!

6/15/2012

Mother of Invention

Filed under: Fiction,Fun,Ooo, shiny... — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:42 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

No, not a real mother.

Maybe, not even a real invention, either!
I think science-fiction has changed a lot.  I don’t mean that it’s different today than it was when I was a kid, though, I think that’s true, too.  No, what I mean is that the intrepid science-fiction authors who have entertained us for so many years have actually changed things with their stories.  One way I think they’ve changed things is via invention.  They’re constantly coming up with crazy, new, almost magical inventions for their stories.  Devices that do things we’d like to be able to do or at least do faster or easier.  Some of these are pretty Earth-shattering, like a personal communication device you can fit in your pocket, and are so incredible that they actually inspire someone to invent them, like the cell phone.  (Okay, yeah, there may not be a direct link between science-fiction and cell phones, but, you have to admit, it existed in sci-fi before we had it in our hand!)
Well, a little site called Technovelgy has put together a timeline of science-fiction inventions.

It’s fun and I think if you look at some of these things, you’ll recognize their modern equivalent.  But, maybe most interesting of all is the stuff that’s been talked about in science-fiction that doesn’t exist… Yet.  So, here’s your chance, you freshly graduated engineers and hopeful inventors, pick something from the list and make it come true!
But, for the rest of us, check out the list and day dream your Friday away.

4/20/2012

Short Fiction Friday

Filed under: Art,Fiction,Fun,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:59 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Sadly, not my own.

It’s no secret that I love science-fiction and fantasy.  In fact, once upon a time, I used to write it.  Quite a bit of it, actually.  In fact, at one time, I was writing at what might be considered a professional level.  At least, I would have been published, if the magazine I submitted to hadn’t folded a few days after they received my story.  But, then life intervened and I more or less stopped writing.  All of which is to say, when I tell you, gentle readers, that I’ve found some good science-fiction or fantasy, especially in the short-story format, I have some idea what I’m talking about.

So, since you took the time to read that, you have the time to read these two short stories by some relatively new authors.
First, there’s the ultimate solution to spammers, which I know a number of my regular system admin users wouldn’t mind implementing, Press Enter To Execute.  It’s near-future science-fiction, which, frankly, is getter rarer and rarer as Moore’s Law speeds up our entire world.
Then, in the fantasy category, there’s The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees, which is a story from the perspective of some very interesting and complicated social insects.

Neither of these are particularly long, but they’re both worth taking the time to read.
Besides, it’s Friday and you really can’t have anything better to do, especially if you’re reading my blog already.
Y’all have a great weekend!

9/9/2011

Apocalypse Moby

Filed under: Art,Fiction,Fun,Movies,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:36 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I’ve never been a huge fan of Moby Dick.

But, I have to admit, the idea of mashing Moby Dick with Apocalypse Now seems like a pretty killer idea to me.  And, that, dear readers, is just what Apocalypse Moby is; an amazing mashup of these two very different stories that comes out amazingly well.  In fact, it almost had a science-fiction feeling to it.  Or maybe that was just my personal experience leaking through, but, either way, it was pretty cool.

Of course, it’s a play, stage-play or screen-play, depending on your bent, which may make it a bit challenging to read, but, I think it’s worth it.  And, trust me on this, it works surprisingly well.  Honest.
It’s just the thing to read on a weekend when you’re too hot to do anything else anyway.  So, go ahead, it’s free!  Go download it and read it!
And have a great weekend!!

6/3/2011

James Joyce Condensed for Twitter?

Filed under: Art,Fiction,Fun,Red Herrings,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:57 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Can someone “reimagine” Ulysses in 140 character bursts?

You James Joyce fans know that June 16th is “Bloomsday“.  The day that Joyce famously detailed in his epic novel Ulysses.  Well, one fan is planning to reformat and reinterpret that famous novel via Twitter this coming Bloomsday.  She’s looking for volunteers to help with the effort, so if you’re interested, hit the article and follow the link there to her project site.  Or, if you just want to follow the action yourself, follow the @11ysses Twitter account before 8:00am (Dublin time) June 16th and see how well they make this happen.  It could be an interesting effort, or a total train wreck.  There’s no telling really.

But, I have to admit, I wonder about this.
The novel is, as you may be aware, a long, challenging literary experiment, of sorts.  And, it’s as famously challenging to read as it must have been to write.  So, I wonder, is dumbing down a classic like that to 140 character intervals really so fantastic?  I should mention that I’ve never actually read the book, though I occasionally feel the urge to attempt it, like some kind of pseudo-intellectual daredevil, attempting to jump a cultural canyon.  So, I wonder, will this project make it more accessible to the unwashed masses, like me?  Or, will it marginalize the work more than modern society already has?
Or will any significant portion of the modern world even notice?
(And, should any of that matter at all?)

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