England, Here I Come (Plus My Ramblings Again)


This will be my last life-intensive update for a while. I will be returning to regular blogging once finals are over and I’m back from my trip. I apologize if you’re expecting lots of well thought out posts or grand ruminations on the state of science fiction or fantasy in the world of literature. Finals are, to put it simply, somewhat more difficult this quarter than last considering that I actually have tests this time around, instead of essays. I am, by nature, far better at writing essays than taking tests because I feel I have more to offer from a writing perspective–when it comes to the material read–than I do from a memorization perspective. I learn far more from forcing myself to write essays than I do from forcing myself to cram information into my head that will, in a few months past, be largely forgotten. As such, I am generally against the idea of testing beyond quizzes or the occasional refresher to make sure one is actually reading. In any case, expect regular blogging to resume soonish.
Now to the big news first. I am going to be gone from the 21st to the 31st. Why? Because I’ll be in England. This is two fold: part of it is to visit my girlfriend and the other part is to speak with Prof. Andy Sawyer of the University of Liverpool about the program he runs (MA in SF Studies). Finances have been, fortunately, better of late than they were before in part because I didn’t have to move when I originally thought I had and in part because Uncle Sam decided to grace me with the tax return I’ve deserved for quite some time (I worked for most of last year, so I get some money back of course). This means my trip is largely free. I also received a scholarship from UCSC that offset some of my educational costs (namely, my laptop, which I wouldn’t have needed if I lived ON campus, but do need because I live OFF campus and spend all my time ON campus due to my transportation situation–riding the vanpool). So, my trip is actually pretty much free and I’m not going to be starving, which is good. I also am planning to return to my regular scanning schedule for my cancer, since I can afford it and because I am most fortunate, thanks to you taxpayers, to have extremely good insurance through the university.
That being said, this means I may or may not be able to do much blogging between the 21st and the 30th of March. I’m hoping to arrange some guest bloggers, but there’s no guarantee on that happening of course (update on that is that I should have two guest bloggers and I’m happy to have more). We’ll see I suppose.
Now, to writing and reading news. I’ve started reading two other books as you can see on the right. One of them is a book for review. I started Rolling Thunder last night because I was finding it a little difficult to get into Whitechapel Gods (I think I may reread the beginning because I must have missed something and I think it’s one of those books that you have to read when you’re very much awake). Rolling Thunder is a rather interesting novel. I’m not far into it but I’m loving it already. The first chapter is rather witty and fun. I’ve also started reading some critical work on science fiction, as you can see. Mr. Roberts’ book is actually quite entertaining and I expect to talk about it in some detail here because it does have some fascinating insights into SF as a literary form.
On the writing front, I am doing relatively well. I will have Interstellar Realty ready to go out at the beginning of this week to Writers of the Future. I think that title will stick with it, unless I can think of something more appropriate. I have also started another project called Mazer Shift, which seems to be taking itself in direction I hadn’t expected and may get put aside for more short fiction. Then I wrote a story on Friday and Saturday on a complete whim and I rather liked it. It’s short and to the point, and rather interesting in my opinion.
I really want to write more short stories due to my love of the form, which has been, in part, inspired by Paul Melko’s novel Ten Sigmas, which was reviewed here. I think the richness of his stories has really inspired my SF mind on the short form, which is a wonderful thing. My girlfriend has done a lot of inspiring as well, which has less to do with the fact that she’s my girlfriend and more to do with that fact that she challenges my brain as good friends should and makes me suddenly think of things I might not have thought of before.
So, I’ve been really churning out a lot of short fiction, or semi-short fiction. I don’t know if this is also due to the idea that it is somewhat ‘common’ among some of the great SF authors to start with short fiction and work their way up to novel length stuff, but it does seem, to some extent, a good possibility that that is what I am doing. I do want to write and publish novels, but there is a part of me that just loves the short form and prays it never dies. There are things you can do with the short form that you can’t do with the novel, not to mention my sudden love for Harlan Ellison, which was brought up to me when I discovered there is a documentary about him, which I must see and is entitled Dreams With Sharp Teeth. If anyone knows if that film will be released on DVD, please tell me where because I would love to see it in full.
The Spellweaver of Dern is not, officially, on hold, however I am a little behind. I hit a bit of a snag in my brain. I have a huge idea mulling around about the third character (Presh) that has been added, but the problem I see is in the presentation. I don’t know if I like how I’ve presented him. Part of me wants to make him a very important character, and another part wants me to leave his existence as a surprise for the reader and the main characters (James and Laura, and company). Out of curiosity, should any of you read beyond the first paragraphs of this rather long-winded babbling, if I were to tell those reading SoD that Presh is of great importance personally to James or Laura, would you want it left the way it is, or would you mind if his story was, for the most part, removed? I like what will happen, but at the same time I fear that his storyline will just be stupid. Perhaps that is just part of every novelist’s internal editor babbling and complaining. Maybe my internal editor doesn’t like Presh, however hilarious his name may be, and wants to destroy him with an eraser. I don’t know. Or perhaps my problem is that the storylines for James and Laura are rather action packed and Presh’s seems too related to the first novel in that “journeying into the unknown” sense. Perhaps I should really ramp it up in the coming chapters and pull the action to the front.
So, I think that’s about all I need to say. I have two finals coming up, so if writing AND blogging all taper off, it’s because of that. I have a final Tuesday and Wednesday and an essay due Friday, though I will have to get it done Thursday due primarily to the fact that I’ll be some six miles in the air in a giant tin can heading over the ocean. So Friday is out for anything other than some writing. I do intend to keep writing on my vacation, and a lot of reading will get done since the plane rides are quite long (11ish hours there and 13ish hours back).
And that’s that!

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

3 thoughts on “England, Here I Come (Plus My Ramblings Again)

  1. Fist of all, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 2nd, Have a fun time on your trip!!! It sounds exciting. Some day I hope to travel abroad, Spain specifically. In time, I will get there – England too 🙂

    As far as writing, you religiously keep up & everything always works out in the end. I’m not so sure if I would totally get rid of Presh; through ramping up the action seems like a good plan to follow.

    Take Care!

  2. And what am I supposed to do while you’re writing? I’m a terrible distraction on MSN, imagine what I can do when I’m sitting next to you. :p

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