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Serializing Shining Path

Sunday 13 December 2015, 12:09

Shortly after I finished my PhD in 2008, I took about half a year off from other work, and wrote a 100,000-word science fiction thriller called Shining Path. That was half a year for the actual writing. It was a synthesis of notes and other material I'd been collecting for a number of years previously. I then spent the next three years or so looking for an agent to represent it.

Plaid code

Thursday 19 May 2011, 15:45

Fans of my fiction writing will doubtless remember my theory that in the Future, girls' school-uniform skirts will be made of "smart fiber," capable of changing colour under computer control to act as a sort of display screen, and the wearers will use that to encode personal information into the plaid stripes of something like a present-day 2D barcode. Such technology already exists today (it's closely related to "e-paper"), though it isn't cheap and rugged enough yet for serious use in clothing.

Well, in one of my nefarious projects I recently had occasion to actually use a data-to-tartan encoding scheme, and you might find the results interesting. Here's a sample:

[Plaid code swatches]

See if you can reverse-engineer the encoding that generated those swatches. It's quite simple, and has an historical basis.

Henry and Eliza

Friday 7 June 2002, 14:21

Henry came home from work feeling as horny as Hell. He threw his coat across the back of a chair, kicked off his boots, and picked up the mouse from its spot on top of the pile of books on the kitchen table, next to the breakfast dishes. He didn't shower. Eliza wouldn't care.

Four Web logs about publishing

Thursday 21 October 2010, 12:12

It's very easy to get into believing in "Be the change you want to see in the world." I'd really like to think that that works; I've even preached that world view to others, and today I'm a little bit ashamed of having done so. Make approaches and you will be approached. Link to others' Web logs, and others will link to yours - not the individuals you linked to, in incestuous tit-for-tat, but more generally as part of a positive-sum reputation economy where the law of attraction brings reputation from third parties to those who give it freely. As I've written before, it doesn't work. Thirteen years of my HTTP logs bear out that it doesn't matter how much you give with a Web site, it'll never mean you're allowed to expect anything. Nonetheless, I'm going to post some links here for my favourite Web logs related to books and publishing.

Writing update

Tuesday 22 June 2010, 19:43

Ever since 2002, when I wrote The Fickle Finger of Fate as a NaNoWriMo project, I've had it in mind to write another book set in that universe but done properly, at publication quality. The NaNoWriMo word-count constraint is interesting as a personal growth exercise, but not really conducive to the output being a good book, and its effects show in the output. Over the years since Fickle Finger I was gradually collecting material for the next book, and as of when I finished my PhD in mid-2008, my plan was that I would work at the University of Toronto for the calendar year 2009 (details are private and beyond the scope, but I was in a position to make them an offer I didn't think they could refuse), and I'd move to Toronto four months early and spend September to December 2008 writing the book at about a third of NaNoWriMo pace.

Light and speed

Sunday 2 February 1997, 12:13

It's not so easy to find a primitive, backward culture anymore. Satellite constellations can lay down a gigahertz on every square kilometer of the Earth's surface and where there's a signal there will be receivers. We need not even mention the orbitals. The painters may be naked - they may be using mud pigments and hair brushes. You might mistake them for a tiny group of prehistoric people somehow cut off from the march of progress for thousands of years. That would be a mistake. Machines dug this cave, the hair for the brushes was grown by bacteria in a bottle, and the design taking shape on the wall does not represent an animal to be hunted. Not exactly.

The UFP and the Filthy Humans

Friday 2 April 2010, 19:16

Re-posting of an article first posted in September 2008.

You are an officer, say a commodore, in the military-diplomatic-exploration organization of an interplanetary nation with United Federation of Planets (UFP) membership. You've been tasked with asserting your nation's interests with respect to a certain out-of-the-way planet that happens to be rich in natural resources. Unfortunately, it's already inhabited, by a race of disgusting natives we will call the Filthy Humans.