The owner of the currently licensed "worlds" is Alloy, a very notorious book packager. (Remember this?) All the comments about Amazon's bad contractual terms in this whole deal? How writers pretty much have no control over how their work is marketed and sold? How their ideas become property of the license holder? How other writers can use their ideas in their own works? That's fairly standard for book packagers. Especially this one. I promise you that Alloy is doing that shit now, already, without any help from Amazon. All this deal does is allow Alloy to now do it at a lower cost and lower immediate risk to them on a much larger scale than before.
(For a more thorough explanation about book packagers and their deal, read Gwenda Bond's post.)
I've seen it described as crowdsourcing media tie-in novels more so than monetizing fanfic and I think that's more accurate. As I said on Twitter, I personally think the person who wrote the Amazon press release intentionally used "fanfic" instead of "licensed media tie-ins" because it would attract more attention and publicity. Whatever else you may think about Amazon, you can't say people weren't talking about Kindle Worlds today. Which means the press release was very effective and that the person who wrote it did their job well.
As Gwenda Bond said in her post, book packaging is very pervasive in the YA genre. Very pervasive. Lemme name a few other Alloy properties and see if they ring any bells:
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
666 Park Avenue
13 Little Envelopes & Girl at Sea (YES, the books by Maureen Johnson)
Midnighters (YES, the books by Scott Westerfeld)
Sweet Valley High
Roswell High (yup, the basis for the TV show)
And these are just Alloy properties. (See the full list of properties here.) There are others.
Personally, I'm more interested in seeing how this will affect other media tie-ins (like Star Wars and Star Trek) and individual creative control over IP. Anyone who's been paying attention to Alloy's doings knows that they're especially interested in altering the latter.
Fermilab just got a new Awesome Magnet, a 50'-wide jobbie that can't be tilted by more than a few degrees without suffering irreparable harm. It's in New York, though, and Fermilab is outside of Chicago, and this presents a logistical problem with a complicated solution:
The Muon g-2 ring, an electromagnet made of steel and aluminum, begins its 3,200-mile trek from New York in early June. From there, it will sail by barge down the East Coast, around Florida's tip into the Gulf of Mexico, then up the Mississippi River until it arrives in Illinois.
Once on land, the electromagnet will be driven at night in a specially designed truck at no more than 10 mph until it reaches Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
The high-tech transport is all in service of a plan to use Fermilab's powerful beam to send muons, a rare kind of particle that lasts just 2.2 millionths of a second, into the circular electromagnet, according to experiment spokesman Lee Roberts, who works at Fermilab. Once in the ring, muons "wobble," or tilt like a top.
Huge magnet set for delicate voyage to Fermilab [Alexa Aguilar/Chicago Tribune]
God bless the 24 hour cafe with its electrical outlets and sweet, sweet caffeine.
HI, INTERNET. HOW'S IT GOING.
I decided to re-read Jane Smiley's The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton (1998), as being something I had vaguely been meaning to reread and v different from Ten Days in the Hills (one thing one can say of Smiley is that she doesn't keep writing the same book over and over again...). I had forgotten just how long a part of the book her being married and living in Kansas Territory among abolitionists at a time of increasing attacks against them was. I had remembered as much more of her disguised as a boy. Anyway, this is still on the go as I was about threequarters through and didn't want to bring it travelling.
Still working my way through the stories in Conservation of Shadows.
Have just started Jo Anderton's Suited the sequel to Debris, about which I was a bit ambivalent, but interested enough to give this a go.
What I've just read
My weekend Christie was Murder in Mesopotamia, of which I thought the conclusion was really a bit farfetched for reasons I have to describe as SPOILER.
Waiting for my flight and on the plane, and in the passport control queue from hell, I got through the two latest short stories by Barbara Hambly downloaded from her website, Sylvia Engdahl's Defender of the Flame, two odd comic dystopian novels by Madelaine Duke, Claret, Sandwiches and Sin (1964) and This Business of Bomfog (1967), and Tansey Rayner Roberts, Splashdance Silver (1998 reissued 2013).
The Hambly stories were well up to standard. The Engdahl was interesting, but really, the characters are all terribly flat. The two novels by Duke: CS&S was an interesting idea somewhat unsatisfactorily developed, and I'm still trying to work out what the point of TBOB was. I think even comic dystopias should have more plot in their worldbuilding. The Rayner Roberts was probably not the best choice - apparently it was her first published novel and I have possibly read slightly too many humourous subversions of standard fantasy narratives.
Also, several essays for a competition, about which I may expatiate further and perhaps under lock...
And what next
As per usual, no idea.
A Brazilian ad agency has built a campaign for Domino's "Pizza" that uses a heat-sensitive coating on rented DVDs; when the disc is played, the heat from the player heats up the coating and causes it to emit a pizza-like odor; the coating also changes appearance and becomes a picture of a pizza with an ad for Domino's.
In partnership with 10 video rental stores in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the brand used rented DVDs as media. About 10 discs each of 10 different new release titles such as Argo, 007, Dread And Dark Knight were stamped with thermal ink and flavored varnish, both sensitive to the heat.
While people were watching the movie, the heat of the DVD player affected the disc. When the movie ended and they ejected the disc, they smelled pizza. They also saw pizza: the discs were printed to look like mini pies, and carried the message: "Did you enjoy the movie? The next one will be even better with a hot and delicious Domino's Pizza."
We do learn that earth-time and azarath-time move differently, and in earth-time it's only been a few weeks since Phantom Stranger sold Rachel Roth out to Trigon, but it's been a much longer time, possibly years, for Raven on Azarath. This may help explain why in earth-time scenes only about five minutes have passed since the very messy end of last issue, while Trigon takes his sweet time explaining the family history to his sons back home.
( Cease your prattle a moment and all will be made clear. )
And looking at that splash, can I just say, I think Trigon prefers Raven 'cause she's the only one of his kids that's pretty?
"Next Issue: The Teen Titans Battle The Brothers Trigon - With The Fate of NYC In The Balance!"
Microsoft still loves their product comparison checklists.
Update: And there’s a TV ad too. It’s cute in a playing-for-second-place way. Microsoft is pitching Windows 8 tablets as the natural rival for the iPad; implicit in this is the dismissal of Android tablets from the equation. The message isn’t “Buy a Windows tablet instead of an iPad” so much as “If you want something other than an iPad, you should buy a Windows tablet.” Are iPad users, en masse, clamoring for multiple apps sharing the screen side-by-side? For PowerPoint? No. This is pitched at people who don’t like the iPad. That’s a play for second place, because most people do like the iPad.
Funny how the tables have turned since the “I’m a Mac / I’m a PC” days.
Ben Marks, our pal at Collectors Weekly, says, "We just published an article on Zoe Mozert, Pearl Frush, and Joyce Ballantyne, who created some of the most memorable pin-up art in the 1940 and '50s. While most people today associate pin-up art with male artists like Alberto Vargas, George Petty, and Gil Elvgren, the contributions of these women are every bit as important, and their work every bit as good. For her article, associate editor Lisa Hix interviewed a number of authorities on pin-up art, from art dealer and author Louis K. Meisel to Marianne Ohl Phillips, who got to know both Mozert and Ballantyne before they died.
“You find mistakes in the male paintings,” Phillips told me. “Elvgren’s got a famous painting where she’s got two left feet, and there are just these things that don’t fit every once in a while. The women never made those mistakes. I think they looked in the mirror a lot and they got things more right. The men tended to make the breasts larger, and they made the legs longer. The women tended to paint very proportionate women, more of a 36-26-36 look, whereas men would make them a little top-heavy.”
I wish I did have the time to reply to everybody individually but I don’t. I think I’ll only comment on any of the posts if there’s something factually wrong mentioned in them, and so far the only point I can remember is one where an ex-neighbour of ours recalled (in an otherwise entirely kind and welcome comment) me telling him, years ago, that my SF novels effectively subsidised the mainstream works. I think he’s just misremembered, as this has never been the case. Until the last few years or so, when the SF novels started to achieve something approaching parity in sales, the mainstream always out-sold the SF – on average, if my memory isn’t letting me down, by a ratio of about three or four to one. I think a lot of people have assumed that the SF was the trashy but high-selling stuff I had to churn out in order to keep a roof over my head while I wrote the important, serious, non-genre literary novels. Never been the case, and I can’t imagine that I’d have lied about this sort of thing, least of all as some sort of joke. The SF novels have always mattered deeply to me – the Culture series in particular – and while it might not be what people want to hear (academics especially), the mainstream subsidised the SF, not the other way round. And… rant over.
Banks is dying of cancer, and it's an awful shame.
Introductory Note(s): This is a pattern I created that has not been published yet and I need it tested for errors and size issues. Please use required yarn, or if you want to use different yarn in a similar weight, just let me know. Comes in size Newborn, 0-3 months, 3-6 months, and 6-12 months.
Other craft(s) required, if any: No
Target Number of Testers: 6 (two per size)
Approximate Hours to Complete: 2-4
Deadline: June 5, 2013
Is the deadline flexible? Yes
Tools: US size crochet hooks size H/8/5.00MM and J/10/6.00MM
Materials: 210-260 yards Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice yarn
Difficulty: Intermediate; Stitches used - Fsc, BLO, sl st, sc, hdc, dc, htr, tr, picot
Pattern format(s): .pdf
Pattern Style: abbreviated
Inexperienced testers accepted? Yes
Inexperienced crafters accepted? No
Digital photo of FO required? Yes
Testing needs: Post in forum any corrections, comments, suggestions, as well as fit for specific sizes (so please try it on a baby in the age range that you chose and let me know if the sizing is correct). Please post a photo of finished project on forum to confirm completion of test.
Things you should know about room service:
1. Read the menu carefully. Note whether there are service charges and/or delivery charges (often there are both). The menu will tell you whether or not these get passed on to the service staff (some do, some don't).
2. Expect the bill for room service to be roughly double what the menu says for prices (because of fees and taxes). You will be paying through the nose for convenience, so be sure you really really really don't want to order in from a local pizza joint instead.
3. Don't tip unless you have money to burn. There may be an exception or two, but I've never been in a hotel that doesn't charge a service charge for the servers. Adding more on top is like giving them an exorbitant 40-50% tip.
For example, here is my bill from last night (yeah, I was desperate, I do this once in a great while instead of ordering in Thai):
Delivery charge: $3
20% Service charge: $4.60
That's $7.60 on a $25.75 bill. If I added my customary tip (20%), that would mean a 55% tip for the server (they receive both the delivery and the service charge). When I am rich, I will happily tip all my servers 55%, but until then, the 30% forced fee is going to have to do.
This was the first 'Tangled Web' story and it was done by superhero fan Garth Ennis. While it's more SFW than your average Ennis book, there is quite a bit of gruesome body horror that wouldn't be out of place in a Cronenberg film, so take that as a warning.
( Scans under the cut... )