Nov 4, 2022 2 min read

Path to villainy, writer tools for the driven, a rich story by Lavie Tidhar

Path to villainy, writer tools for the driven, a rich story by Lavie Tidhar
Where I'm sitting and writing this post

The picture above, for those of you in the northern hemisphere, is what it's like this first week of November.  There's a steady breeze that keeps the sun's warmth at bay.  But this is surreal for this time of the year.  Of course, my brain is wondering what ancient viruses are emerging because of this warmth.  Sorry to burst your bubble.

While I'm at it, I've been thinking about what makes villains, by which I mean the process of ending up a villain, rather than the actual traits that constitute being evil.  This was brought via courtesy of the excellent podcast by Our Opinions Are Correct by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders, and in particular, their episode on Damnation Arcs.  It's a great discussion on the difference between a downfall, and a damnation arc, the latter involving sympathy for the bad side's raison d'être.  Do check it out and email me with thoughts on books or stories you've read that you think are great examples of this!

On to the week's treats!

For the quants among us writers

We found this gem of a tool for those who are driven and motivated by output.  Thanks to Christie Yant.

US Military and Sci-Fi

Andrew Liptak's article does a great job of showcasing the number of times the military has used sci-fi as a device to train and shift the mindset of soldiers and officers.  I was tickled by the hypothetical scenario that Liptak references:

An information warfare specialist is sent in when a disinformation campaign depicts U.S. forces destroying religious sites and infecting refugees with tainted vaccines and moves to help mitigate attacks from state actors looking to destabilize the region.

I'd love to see an honest reckoning in which the scenario calls for the military to actively engage in spreading disinformation rather than being the victim and always being agains disinformation.  It'd be naive to think it doesn't already engage in this and has before.  Wasn't spreading disinformation part-and-parcel to covert geo-politics?

Neom by Lavie Tidhar (out Nov. 9).

I was graciously offered an eArc by Tacyhon Publications for this book, and while I haven't read Central Station, the story works without that background.  Although I'm sure I'm missing a ton of nuance.  Tidhar's worldbuilding is...granular.  I compare it to the richness in Ian McDonald's The Dervish House.  The story follows the future-city of Neom in the Saudi desert.  It reads as a memoir more than a plot-driven novel of the results of what was once the dream city of Neom.  Now, however, after wars and upheavals, Neom exists as a collector of people, robots, ideas; a place where all sorts of life happens.  Take a read and let me know what you think!

As an aside, I really enjoyed Tidhar's Apex Book of World SF anthology series (older now).  I wish he'd kept that going.

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