The mountain is, the mountain is not… the mountain still is not. (Links post)

LinksI had a quick little blog entry all written yesterday. It was the story behind a funny photograph I took seventeen years ago, on my first trip to the Pacific Northwest. It was a picture of a mountain, and a terse little sign that told me where it was. I figured I’d scan the picture when I got home, post the blog entry, and that’d be that.

The problem with that was, and is, finding the photo. It, and a swath of other pictures from that era, seem to have disappeared on me. Likely they’re in another box o’ pictures somewhere, probably itself buried in one of the larger boxes in the basement. I haven’t the patience to go hunting for it now, so instead, I foist upon you… the links!

Another Leap Towards True VR. This is about another of those little things coming down the pike very shortly that will drastically change how you interact with computers… again. It’s a little device that allows you to treat any computer screen like a touchscreen… without actually having to touch the screen.

Here’s a piece on a robot avatar body being controlled for the first time by thought alone. Still a long way from Surrogates (or Avatar, for that matter), but closer than you might think.

Speaking of robots, here’s one that can beat you at rock-paper-scissors 100% of the time. Ah, but how does it do with rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock?

For writers: 20 essential tips on rewriting your story until it shines. Always useful to keep in mind.

The Rocketeer who Became a 19th Century Obsession. IO9 presents the possible real-life origins of steampunk icon Mr. Golightly.

Biology’s Master Programmers. On the problems biologists are encountering with trying to make real-life biopunkish stuff happen.


Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light. His blog originates here. Photo: 3poD/

My brainmeats are all wrung out, so…

It has been a long week for me, for reasons I can’t really talk about. I was going to see if I could kludge together some book reviews, but… maybe next week on that. So, let’s see… what can I talk about?

There’s writing, of course. The Morpheist is at 26.5k, and I’m thinking I can get it to the end (about 32k or so) within the next two weeks. As first drafts go, it’s rough enough you could use it to shave a moose, but it’s workable enough to go on with. Once it’s done, I’m gonna put it away for a little bit (but not too long) and work on something else, but I’m not sure what just yet.

I’ve been kicking about an idea to record me reading the first chapter of Brutal Light. Either just as an audio freebie or something to go up on YouTube. Of course, if it goes up on YouTube, I’m gonna have to come up with some visual bits to add to it, so it’s not just my comical-lookin’ mug up there reading for 7-10 minutes. I want to attract people to the book, not drive them away…

I haven’t seen too many movies on the big screen this year, for some reason. There’s been a lot I’ve wanted to see, but they just seem to whoosh by. Last ones I went to were… let’s see if I can remember… The Hunger Games and The Avengers (both of which were as good as I’d hoped, and even a bit better). More and more, I don’t end up seeing the movies until they end up on DVD. And it doesn’t really bother me. (In other news, you kids get off my lawn.) I think I should be able to get some friends together to go see Prometheus this weekend, though…

Theme from ‘Super Skrull’ by Ookla the Mok. I have the CD that this is on, but I only re-listened to it recently. Super Skrull is possibly one of the silliest characters ever created by Marvel; this song does him justice.

Author Tim Marquitz has the first chapter of his new dark epic fantasy novel, Embers of an Age, posted for your reading pleasure. Also, the book that Embers is a sequel to, Dawn of War is now free on Kindle!

If Earth is invaded by aliens and you were going to place a bet on the outcome, here’s why you’d be foolish to bet against them. In case that was something you were going to do.

Gladiator Ariel and other crazy designs from a nonexistent fighting game. My wife would demand we get this game, if it existed. I would cheerfully comply.

Chaos Theory: A Unified Theory of Muppet Types. I’d like to say I’m a Chaos Muppet, but in all honesty, I’m probably an Order Muppet. I will not comment on my eyebrow size.

Right… time to get on with Friday. Hope yours is a good one!


Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light. His blog originates here.

Fading Light, Reading Pics, Site Maintainance, Free Links

Fading Light CoverI got some good news recently — my bizarro/horror short story Goldilocks Zone was accepted into the anthology Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous, edited by Tim Marquitz. That’s the awe-inspiring cover on the left, with artwork by Jessy Lucero–click on the image to see it in its full-size tentacly glory. Fading Light‘s gonna be droppin’ on September 1st from Angelic Knight Press, and in addition to my story, it features monstrously good tales from Malon Edwards, Jake Elliot, Lee Mather, Edward M. Erdelac, and more. You’re gonna want to catch this one!

Also, Bethany Grenier recently posted some pictures from the reading/q&a/signing we did at Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor on May 7th… here, here, and here. (Left to right, that’s Bethany, Jim C. Hines, me, and Emmy Jackson.) Had a good time, and am looking forward to possibly returning in the fall!

In other news, I’m going to be doing some website upgrades this weekend–basically upgrading from Joomla 1.5 to 2.5, and slipping in a new template for the site’s look. Hopefully this will be smooth and mostly transparent, but if you drop by the site this weekend and things are looking screwy… well, I’ll be workin’ on it. (Hopefully after this upgrade, it’ll be easier to leave comments on the blog, and I’ll be able to implement some things I’ve been putting off.)

But enough about that. You’re here for the free links, right? (Yeah, I said free links, not free drinks… hey, where’re you goin’?)

One of the big blowups from the past week started here, with an author’s story of how her first short story to be accepted for publication was mangled and slimed by the anthology’s editor and publisher (Undead Press). A harsh tale, but heartening in how that, since the story came out, a lot of light has been shone on this festering boil of a publisher.

In other news of dickery, Lincoln Crisler recently related that bureaucracy is making it very difficult for spouses of military personnel to find employment. But the pushback has started, led by his wife, Consuela, and there’s a way you can help–by signing this petition. It just takes a few moments, and will help a lot of people.

Mad Science: Giovanni Aldini, Corpse Reanimator–all about Giovanni Aldini, the macabre scientist rumored to be a real-life inspiration for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Shocking!

Apparently, now, there’s a project going on that involves mounting laser guns on sharks. Really. Of course, when I read this, I immediately suspected that Karina Fabian was behind it somehow…

This Turkish Doctor Who takeoff is… is… look, it just is, okay? I had to lie down for a while after watching this.

Here’s a video that’s evidence that Farmer Brown’s switched crops, and is now growing magic mushrooms. That, or the cows are more than they seem.

Finally, there’s this video, which is simply titled “Japanese racing rendition.” As far as I can tell, it’s technically SFW (safe for work). It is also weird as hell, and something you will never, ever be able to unsee. You have been warned!

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.

Links or Consequences, New Mexico

I’m up to 19.5k words on the first draft of The Morpheist, though my projected word count is also up–to 33k. I like how it’s shaping up so far, though it’s going to take a lot of working over after the first draft is done to get it ready to go. I’m realizing a lot about the motivations and desires of some of the characters as I go, even though they may not surface in this novella. I’d almost forgotten how much I like this process of discovery. I’ve had to pause it, though, to work on the revisions and polishing of “Goldilocks Zone,” the horror short I first-drafted a couple months ago. Once that’s out the door, it’s back to The Morpheist till it’s done.

As I briefly mentioned three weeks ago, I’m going to be at PenguiCon 2012, April 27th-29th in Dearborn, Michigan (USA), on panels and otherwise slithering about. Don’t know my schedule yet, but I’ll list it here when I get it–also, it will be available online here. I’m really looking forward to this one, as PenguiCon always has some seriously awesome and fun stuff going on.

I’m also slated to be doing a reading from Brutal Light at Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, Michigan (USA) on May 7th, 2012 (7pm EDT). I won’t be there by my lonesome–also reading and signing there will be Jim C. Hines, author of the Princess Novels fantasy series from DAW Books, Emmy Jackson, author of Empty Cradle: The Untimely Death of Corey Sanderson, and Bethany Grenier, author of Sings with Stars. Save the date!

You know what else is happening on April 28th, besides Penguicon? It’s Obscura Day! Which, according to the website, is “an international celebration of unusual places, full of expeditions, back room tours & explorations of the hidden wonders in your own hometown.” Sadly, even if I wasn’t busy that day, I’d still be far, far away from the events I’d like to go to the most, such as ones at the House of Automata in Scotland, the Athenaeum in Boston, Massachusetts, and Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois.

I fully support this use of unmanned drone helicopters, even though it doesn’t seem likely to happen anytime soon: TacoCopter startup delivers tacos by unmanned drone helicopter.

Here’s a cool DIY augmented reality monitor baseball cap… thing. I’m tempted to see if I can put one of these together myself.

The privacy invaders are back. Did they ever leave? CISPA looks even more awful than SOPA.

Waiting for those hand-manipulable 3d windows, as seen in films like Minority Report? They’re getting closer to being real.

Someday soon, you’ll be able to design and print your own robot. THE FUTURE, WE ARE IN YOU.

For writers: Eight reasons your story might not be selling that have little or nothing to do with whether the story is any damn good. Favorite line: “I mean, sure, it seems funny and original when you’re six tequilas to the wind, but then again, so does Zardoz.”

More for writers: 9 ways to piss off an editor. I don’t know how accurate this is. I’ve been a pretty princess for ages, and no editor has yet remarked on it.

And finally, here’s what your favorite tv shows would look like if they starred marshmallow peeps — at least, if your favorite shows are The Walking Dead, Dexter, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, The Simpsons, or Arrested Development. I see this and pose two questions: 1) Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? 2) No Doctor Who or True Blood?

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.

Links… in… Spaaaaaaaaace!

I’m still working away on my dark science fiction novella The Morpheist. It’s at about 12.5k in verbiage, around halfway in terms of story told. It’s the most sustained work on a single story I’ve done in quite a while; it gives me confidence that this will be the next big thing I finish. It used to be that I wrote with discipline and a sense of purpose. That was true in the 90s when I wrote for Superguy, and it was true for Brutal Light. I have to admit I lapsed once I finished Brutal Light, and stayed lapsed for several years–not going over all the reasons why, just acknowledging it happened. I’m mildly relieved to find I can still write this way.

It looks like I’m going to be a panelist at Penguicon 2012 (Friday April 27th through Sunday April 29th) in Dearborn, Michigan, USA! I’ll post again when I know the what and the when of the panels. PenguiCon attracts some big crowds, and is always insane amounts of fun, so I’m really looking forward to it.

The first review I’ve seen anywhere of my novel Brutal Light has come in. Admittedly, it’s mixed, but it’s overall positive. What do you think?

Meanwhile, on to the links!

Author and editor Lincoln Crisler has been hosting a series of ‘virtual panels’ on various subjects regarding Corrupts Absolutely?, the dark superheroic fiction anthology he edited. Two weeks ago, the topic was Meta-Morality. Last week it was Meta-Misses. Yesterday, it was Meta-Mates. Lots of perspectives and food for thought!

The first communication using neutrinos has been sent and received by a group at the University of Rochester. It’s the first step toward someday being able to communicate without worrying about pesky things like oceans or the moon getting in the way. (Not quite Star Trek-style, since it doesn’t beat the lightspeed barrier, but pretty cool, nonetheless.)

Speaking of cool, there’s a new system developed that lets a wearer make every surface a touch screen for smartphone-like usage. I won’t comment on what uses my inner 12-year-old has already imagined for this. Every surface means every surface, is all I’m sayin’. 😉

Here’s an interesting debunking of the ‘Creative Right Brain’ myth. The truth turns out to be a lot more complex, messy and interesting, which is just how I like it.

Interesting speculation going on in The Atlantic regarding how medtech could expand beyond the injured. The future is coming, ready or not! This is the sort of thing I find fascinating, particularly as, in The Morpheist, I try to worldbuild a cyber/biopunkish future in which some of our dreams and nightmares in this area and many others have come true.

Finally, as a folklore fan, I was amazed to read about five hundred new fairytales being discovered in Germany. Tales like these, particularly so close to their sources (they were collected around the same time as Grimm’s, and were far less rewritten), are a tremendous window to our collective past.

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.

Are You Linksperienced?

The writing proceeds apace at Chez Olson, after some bumpy days where I was not sure what the hell I wanted to write–not because I didn’t like what I was writing, but because I had several ideas that all wanted to come out at once. For a while, I thought that Entering Cadence, my ‘science fiction noir’ novella, would be what occupied my winter, until it decided it wanted to be a novel instead. I knocked out the first draft of a short horror story, “Goldilocks Zone,” then had to decide whether to return to Entering Cadence or start in on one of these other ideas.

The idea that won was to revisit a very old short story of mine, The Morpheist, and rework it into a dark fantasy novella set in a biopunkish future (once again, showing no respect for genre boundaries–tsch!). For the first time in a long time, I’ve been meeting the (admittedly modest) daily writing goals I’ve set for myself, and expect to have a first draft done by mid-April (stopping only to revisit, revise, polish, and send out “Goldilocks Zone”). After that… it’s either back to Entering Cadence, on to an as-yet-untitled biopunk SF story targeted for an anthology, or over to True Places to see if I can take the salvagable first half of that and turn it into a decent standalone book.

(As far as Starless Midnight–the projected sequel to Brutal Light–goes, that’s also a possibility, but low in priority at this point. Maybe by fall I’ll be ready for it…)

In the meantime, here are links! Yay?

I’m going to be on Blog Talk Radio’s A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book, hosted by Jennifer Walker, on February 29th from 6:30pm to 7:00pm. Jennifer will be interviewing me on Brutal Light and other writerly things, and I’ll be doing my best to keep my brain from locking up due to the stress that comes to me from trying to keep my train of thought from leaving the station before all the words are done boarding. Drop in and listen! (It’s not really ‘radio,’ it’s streaming, so if you’ve got a good internet connection, you should be able to follow along. Also, it’ll be archived, just in case you decide not to rearrange your life so as to listen live.)

Lincoln Crisler recently released a free story on Smashwords (you’ll need to log in or create an account to see it) to promote his soon-to-be-released anthology, Corrupts, Absolutely?. (And yeah, that anthology is one of the new releases I just talked about above.) Check it out!

Here’s something that’s simultaneously both cool and worrisome: Google will be selling ‘heads-up display’ glasses by year’s end. Cool because… well, come on. Worrisome because you just know people are going to be wearing these while doing other things, such as walking and driving and who knows what else, and it’s only a matter of time until we hear someone caused a multi-car pileup because they saw that a store they were passing had several funny cat videos on their YouTube channel.

Speaking of biopunk, here’s an article on some of the real-life bio-hacking that some people are already doing. This has ‘beginning of a SyFy Channel movie’ all over it…

I used to like eating hot, hot foods. In college, I would snork up jalapeno peppers straight out of the jar, and afterward, for years, I’d grow my own chili peppers. I’ve mellowed somewhat on that (my orders of Indian food never go above ‘medium,’ which is ‘hot’ to most sane people), but this article on the world’s hottest pepper tempts me to the challenge…

Here’s Five leadership mistakes of the Galactic Empire that you’ll want to avoid, especially if ‘force choke’ isn’t an option on the table for keeping your employees in line…

Finally, here’s something (originally brought to my attention by Naomi Clark) that I just loved: the opening of Mega-Shark vs. Giant Octopus, retold as a heartwarming children’s story. It is made of awesome.

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.