Tag Archives: guest posts

Guest Post: Mike Dariano, Finding Good Things

This is a guest post by Mike Dariano who runs the 27 Good Things blog. Three times a week, Mike asks three different people to list 3 good things to read, watch, and use. Thus, the “27” good things. It’s a great blog and I urge you to check it out and follow @27GoodThings on Twitter. And now, here’s Mike:

I’ve always been someone looking for good things to read.  I used to wander bookstores and libraries, perusing the shelves for books that sat adjacent to other books I read.  I know that the Dewey Decimal 150 books are good for a scan and that the staff picks might have a few gems. My browsing habits changed once I got a smartphone and I could add books to my Amazon Wishlist.  My list went from a paper in my pocket to a list on the internet.  As this changed so did my browsing habits.  I would find a blog that shared a good book and added the text to my list.  My Amazon Wishlist of things to read, watch, and use grew to include hundreds of items.  While I didn’t get around to many of them, the ones I did find were great.  To feed my growing curiosity, I started looking for a site that featured good stuff all in one place.  Not finding one, I decided to make one.

I had never made anything other than a personal blog before and what a joy the experience has been.  Not only the process and the people – which have both been great, but the good things they’ve shared.  Here are some personal favorites from running the site.

I always watch at least part of the TED Talks that are shared.  The ideas shared in the talks – even if they don’t interest me or align with my views – are well conceived and make me question things.

Breaking Bad is the the most popular show on the site but I’ve only watched part of season one.  What strikes me is that people from all walks of life have common ground they tread upon. It reminds me that we are more similar than different.

Evernote is the most frequently shared thing to use and something I regularly gain insight about.  I’m always excited to see what people say about Evernote because I view this digital tool like a real one.  When I get a tangible tool it takes time to figure out how best to use it and what to use it for. It’s the same with my digital tools, one of which is Evernote.

Besides these online things I was surprised at the frequency of offline things that were shared.  People like to watch people, watch clouds, and be outside using their bodies. They like using their cast-iron skillet and this roll up waterbottle.  I like these things too, but I thought the site would focus on things with pages or plugs..  I’m glad it’s not.

The site has been a special treat for me and I feel incredibly lucky that people like it.  I better wrap this post up, I need to get back to my reading list.  As a result of running the site, it’s gotten rather long.


Mike Dariano (@mikedariano) blogs at MikeDariano.net, features good people at 27GoodThings.com, and takes notes at BusinessPodClass.com.

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I’m today’s Guest Author over at Janice Hardy’s “The Other Side of the Story”

Janice Hardy invited me to be a guest author over at her wonderful ongoing series, “The Other Side of the Story” and today, my post appears. I write about the struggle I some times have with all of the writing advice out there: getting out of my head. Click on over to The Other Side of the Story to check it out.

A big thank you to Janice Hardy for having me over, and thank you to Juliette Wade for putting in the good word.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt: Space battle and action scenes in science fiction (a dialog)

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is on a blog tour for his newest novel, The Returning, a sequel to his debut novel The Worker Prince. On the blog tour for his first novel, Bryan stopped by to discuss how golden age science fiction influenced him. Since then, Bryan has not only written another novel, but he also edited the Space Battles anthology. This time around, Bryan and I discuss space battles in golden age science fiction, as well as action scenes in general through all of science fiction. It was a fun discussion and I was delighted that Bryan had the chance to stop by. You can read our discussion below.


Bryan Thomas Schmidt: So Jamie, good to talk pulps again. I always enjoy our conversations. You mentioned, after seeing Space Battles, the anthology I edited, that you had wondered about my take on space battles in the history of science fiction. And I must admit, as a kid who fell in love with sci-fi because of Star Wars and Star Trek (both original series, ahem) that space battles and science fiction have always been almost hand-in-hand in my mind. I love action. Even now, action movies are always my favorites. I like drama, I like comedy, and a good mix of those is great as long as there’s good action. So that’s what I try and write with the Davi Rhii books and the feel I most wanted to capture was that Golden Age feel as we’ve discussed in the past. So getting started, what’s your sense of the place space battles have science fiction for you? You’ve read a lot more pulp than I have, at least recently. What draws you to science fiction stories? Does action play a part?

Jamie Todd Rubin: Well, I can appreciate the fondness for movies like Star Wars, and shows (and movies) like Star Trek, but I must admit that I’m one of those rare breed of science fiction writers who is generally uninterested in media-SF. I like written stuff, and that is where most of my influence comes from. Star Wars probably took space battles to a level never achieved before 1977. But space battles have been a part of the literature from almost the beginning and in those early days of the Golden Age and just before, they were portrayed about as realistically as what we see inStar Wars. While lasers in space makes for an exciting story, it doesn’t seem to be an optimal weapon. Willy Ley pointed this out in a rather remarkable article in the August 1939 issue of Astounding called “Space War.” In that article, he made a very closely reasoned case for why bullets would still be superior weapons to lasers in a real space battle. Someone took this to heart, because I recall seeing just such a weapon used in the second-coming of Battlestar Galactica.

I tend to be more connected to space battle stories when it is the battle that is secondary to the story itself. There is a rather remarkable space battle in the fourth Foundation story, “The Big and the Little.” Foundation stories are often criticized for being mostly dialog and that is true, but people seem to forget the battle that takes place at the end, and the clever tactics used to surprise the enemy fleet. I tend to be turned off by the galaxy-wide, planet hurling battles you get from someone like E. E. “Doc” Smith in his Lensman stories. I prefer the smaller, somewhat more realistic battles you get from someone like Malcolm Jameson in his “Bullard” stories of the 1940s; or the kind you find in Joe Haldeman’s stories of the 1970s.

But you edited an entire anthology of space battles, Bryan. What worked for you? What is it about a space battle story that makes it a good story?

BTS: Well, the Foundation stories were very much more intellectual action than physical action. The ideas explored and examined are amazing and it’s done with great depth, but yes, they are not “action” stories in the typical sense, and that’s okay. John C. Wright’s “Count To A Trillion” last year was very much like that and, to some degree, so are Michael Flynn’s TOR series Spiral Arm. So I don’t think action is the sole element of space opera. Certainly political and personal scheming and lots of twists and turns in plotting are common elements as well as larger-than-life characters and a sense of good v. evil and epic scope. But in many ways, it’s the action pace that makes the stories so popular because it’s really good escapism. We all have an inner hero who dreams of saving the day, I think. And we can live vicariously through those stories and have those laser battles and starship dogfights in our mind that won’t likely happen in our real lives and that, in many ways, are more exciting and interesting than our everyday lives. I think that’s a big part of the appeal. So if you have a fast pace, fun gadgets and ships, an interesting, imaginative setting that evokes the creativity of readers, and add interesting characters, especially with fun banter, fans tend to enjoy that. All elements which Star TrekStar WarsBSG etc. had and which many of the Space Battles stories employed. I also used it in my Davi Rhii books.

And I think the realistic nature in regards to space battles is one area where readers and even writers tend to fudge and it’s acceptable to do so. Mess up things like gravity, planetary set up, solar systems, geology, etc., and you’re much more likely to get criticized but everyone enjoys blasters and starfighter duels. It’s the same way that FTL, although scientifically impossible as far as we can see, is still used as a trope widely.

Continue reading Bryan Thomas Schmidt: Space battle and action scenes in science fiction (a dialog)

My first guest book review column for InterGalactic Medicine Show is now online

Remember, I am pinch hitting the book review column in June and July for Alethea Kontis, who has been on her book tour to promote her new novel, Enchanted. My first guest book review column is now online. In it, I take a look at the Million Writer Awards anthology by Jason Sanford, and 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson. Head on over to InterGalactic Medicine Show to check it out.

I’m part of today’s Mind Meld over at SF Signal

Looking for recommendations on some of the best SF/F in 2011? Check out today’s Mind Meld at SF Signal: Our favorite SF/F media consumed during 2011. In addition to me there are recommendations by Jessica Strider, Charles Tan, Patrick Hester, Fred Kiesche, Jeff Patterson, Andrew Liptak, Larry Ketchersid, Karen Burnham, and Jay Garmon.

Guest post on going paperless over at the Evernote Blog

I have a guest post up at the Evernote Blog: “Why I went paperless” which explains my process for going paperless and offers some tips on how to get started. If you are interested in this kind of thing, go check it out.

A couple more guest posts are online

In this recent frenzy of guest-posting, I’ve got two more posts up today of possible interest to folks:

  1. Over at The Parking Lot Confessional, I’ve my post, “Taking a Swing at Those Writing Slumps” is now online. I was asked to write something that fit in with their theme this week, which centers around when the writing isn’t going so well.
  2. 40k Books is celebrating #ShortFictionWeek by enlisting its authors to write posts about short fiction. I was asked to write a post recommending some short fiction to read and I ended up writing “Seven Short Fiction Recommendations Spanning Seven Decades.” Head on over there to check out what I’ve recommended.

I also nearly forgot to mention that the reprint of Episode 2 of my Vacation in the Golden Age is up over at AmazingStoriesMag.com.

And with those posts, I believe that is all I currently have in the pipeline for guest posts, which means that I can return to writing some fiction. As it happens, my small writers group is meeting today and one of the stories up for critique is a short one of mine that I hope to send out soon.

A recap of my recent posts around the Interwebs; plus one new one!

So in case you’ve missed it, I’ve been a busy boy the last few days with various guest posts and things seemingly all over the place. Here is a recap in case there’s anything you missed:

  1. Over at John Mierau’s Serving Worlds, I have a guest post on my interpretation of a famous science fiction quote. Go check out Jamie Todd Rubin: “All Major Changes…”
  2. My latest Wayward Time Traveler column is up at SF Signal. This is the first of a 4-part arc that is, well, a little different from what I normally do there. Go have a look at “A Correspondent to the Past: 1939
  3. If you missed it, Bryan Thomas Schmidt stopped by yesterday as part of his blog tour and we discussed his book, The Worker Prince and the influence of the Golden Age on his writing.

But wait, there’s more:

  • I participated in SF Signal’s most recent Mind Meld: “The Most Interesting Societies in SF/F.” See what Sam Sykes, Mark Newton, Jay Lake, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Ari Marmell, and I have to say on the topic.

And if that is not enough, there are at least two more pieces of mine coming soon to a website near you. Stay-tuned. I’ll let you know when they’ve been posted.

I have a guest post over at John Mierau’s Serving Worlds

Not long ago John invited me to write a guest post on a quote from science fiction and interpret the quote any way I chose. Today, you can find out both the quote I chose and my interpretation by heading on over to John’s site and checking out my guest post. I think it’s an interesting one.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt: How Golden Age SF Influenced Me (A Dialogue)

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is in the midst of a month-long blog tour promoting his debut novel, The Worker Prince. Bryan and I had a fascinating discussion about his book, writing, and the Golden Age of science fiction. You can read our discussion below.


Worker Prince front.jpg

Bryan Thomas Schmidt: Well, Jamie, thanks for inviting me to your blog. I am a big fan of Golden Age Science Fiction, as are you, and I enjoy your updates as you take your nostalgic trip back through the pulp zines of old. In particular, I am a huge Leigh Brackett fan, but, of course, I’ve also been influenced by Robert Silverberg, who started out in the pulps, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, James Blish, Henry Kuttner, Edward Hamilton…so many. So much so, in fact, that when I wrote my space opera novel, I wanted to capture some of the magic feel I found in the pulp stories. Good v. evil, with clear cut bad guys, larger than life heroes, sidekicks, interesting aliens, space guns, space fighters, and also that good clean family fun. So many of those stories were meant to be read by fans of any age, and I wanted the same for The Worker Prince. If people can get lost in my world and escape into some fun for a bit, I’d feel very successful with it.

Jamie Todd Rubin: Let’s see, I’ve encountered Brackett, Asimov and Kuttner so far in my Vacation, but of course, I’ve read Silverberg, Blish and Bradbury elsewhere. One of the things that I find interesting is that these writers were, for the most part, at the beginnings of their careers. I’ve read 2 Brackett stories so far, and they haven’t been great, but over time you can actually see the improvement. You talk about stories that are meant to be read by fans of any age, and “good clean family fun.” I’ve often thought that at its heart, science fiction needs to entertain first and foremost, because how else can you expect to do anything else if you aren’t entertaining your reader? I’ve been criticized for this, but I still think it’s true and it sounds like that is what you are going for in The Worker Prince; something that anyone can pick up, start reading, and enjoy. That is not as common today as it was 70 years ago. There are some writers still doing this, but a lot of science fiction and fantasy writers are writing darker pieces, perhaps reflecting the time. I’ve listened to you interviewed and I know that The Worker Prince is more than just entertainment value. I wonder if you see part of it as a reaction to some of the darker fiction being published today?

Continue reading Bryan Thomas Schmidt: How Golden Age SF Influenced Me (A Dialogue)

Some news and coming attractions

Several items of note today worth sharing with you on the science fiction/writing front:

  • Since the word is now out, my Vacation in the Golden Age posts will be reprinted at the new Amazing Stories website beginning with Episode #1 on Monday, October 10. I believe they will continue every other week thereafter, putting them on an alternating schedule with the current episodes. New episodes of my Vacation will continue to appear here on my blog as scheduled, but you can now also find the reprints over at Amazing Stories. The reprinting will be about 2 issue-years behind the current episode. When you think about it, this is really kind of cool. Amazing Stories was around back in the days that Astounding was a burgeoning magazine and Amazing will now be reporting about those early days in Astounding. Be sure to check it out on Monday.
  • On October 18, I will be hosting a discussion here on the blog with author Bryan Thomas Schmidt as part of his blog tour for his new book The Worker Prince. We’ll be talking about the Golden Age and how Golden Age influences crept into Bryan’s book. It should be a lot of fun, so watch out for it.
  • I will be writing a guest post on a famous quote from science fiction as part of banned book month later on this month. More information on this a little later in the month.
  • Early in January, I will be on the #sffwrtcht to talk about science fiction and writing. I’m looking forward to that; it should be a lot of fun.
  • I am working on a secret project about which I can’t tell you anything, other than to say it is science fiction-related.  But I thought I’d stick in it here to tease you. I should be able to talk about this in more detail at the end of March, if all goes well.
There you have it. Somehow, I am managing to keep pretty busy, but I don’t mind being busy when the work is fun. And this stuff is fun.