October 07, 2015

Squidtastic Steampunkery: Free Fiction this Thursday! #steampunk #kindle #scifi

ATTENTION: My steampunk short "The Bold Explorer in the Place Beyond" will be free for Kindle tomorrow and Friday. Here's the official link:


Please do me a solid and help spread the love far and wide; thanks! If you read the story, please hit it with a review--even if you don't like it. Bad reviews help readers just as much as good reviews and, let's be real, you ain't gonna hurt my feelings (scroll down for details).

ADDED BONUS: My celebrated steampunk novella set in the same universe, Tucker Teaches the Clockies to Copulate, will be steeply discounted next week.

FUN FACT: The most negative review I've ever received was in response to "The Bold Explorer"--which was also my first big break in publishing. That review begins:

"The Bold Explorer in the Place Beyond" by David Erik Nelson, reads like a sick joke. ...

and ends

... It's a dark day in the history of science fiction when such an offensive and ridiculous story appears in one of the pillars of the genre.

It is, to date, my absolute favorite review of one of my works. This guy may not *like* me, but he certainly *gets* me.

(If you wanna stay on top of things, and get advance notice of freebies, giveaways, and my ongoing lapses in judgement, sign up for my basically-only-monthly newsletter. Thanks again!)

October 02, 2015

HO-LY *SHIIIIIIIIIIIIT!* New Mammoth Found in Chelsea, MI!!!

Unearthing of a mammoth today in Chelsea Michigan.

Posted by Sheryl Myers on Thursday, October 1, 2015

UPDATE: Farmer uncovers woolly mammoth bones near Chelsea, Michigan | MLive.com

September 29, 2015

"The main quality of a Strong Female Protagonist is someone who is a full human being."

I love this short film. As I've seen it float around online, I've seen folks say "Watch this! It's such a great short film about domestic violence!" (which obviously it is), and I've seen folks say "Really, this is a short film about abortion! It's great and powerful; watch it now!" And it's that, too. And I can imagine someone saying "This is a great film about Patriarchy! Feminism! Rape Culture! The legal system! Psychology! Psychiatry! Our Prozac Nation!"

All of that can be argued. It's all those things.

But that isn't why I love it.

I love this because it is a great short film--a great short story--about a human making a wrenching decision. And it is about the protagonist's will to power. And, as Cortazar instructs it must, it wins by KO.

So, watch this now. Please.


REDACTION from Tim Sanger on Vimeo.

FYI: The quote I used as this post's title comes from a pal of mine, Sarah Zettel; she says some very concise and sharp things about women in SF as both readers and characters here:

September 25, 2015

The Video Table of Contents for "Junkyard Jam Band" is Finally Live! #DIY

book trailer #2: "Junkyard Jam Band" video Table of Contents - YouTube

*And* you still have time to sign up for a free PDF Jam Pack including full build instructions for two projects and a steep discount on either of my DIY books. Check it out!

September 24, 2015

A Very Cool Lil Vid on the Physics of Harmonics in Music

Why It's Impossible to Tune a Piano - YouTube

September 16, 2015

These two news items demonstrate the same fundamental fact: Meritocracy Isn't a Real Thing

. . . so let us meditate upon that, and then neither kvell about folks' successes or flagellate them for their failures. The truest statement of the 21st C is this: You didn't build that. All the greatness, all the folly, all of the sound and fury and mess and wonder, of that is stuff that we all done did together.

How Elementary School Teachers’ Biases Can Discourage Girls From Math and Science - The New York Times

Beginning in 2002, the researchers studied three groups of Israeli students from sixth grade through the end of high school. The students were given two exams, one graded by outsiders who did not know their identities and another by teachers who knew their names.

In math, the girls outscored the boys in the exam graded anonymously, but the boys outscored the girls when graded by teachers who knew their names. The effect was not the same for tests on other subjects, like English and Hebrew. The researchers concluded that in math and science, the teachers overestimated the boys’ abilities and underestimated the girls’, and that this had long-term effects on students’ attitudes toward the subjects.


Although the study took place in Israel, Mr. Lavy said that similar research had been conducted in several European countries and that he expected the results were applicable in the United States. The researchers also found that discouragement from teachers in math or science wound up lowering students’ confidence in other subjects at school, showing again the potential importance of nods of encouragement.

Yi-Fen Chou is Michael Derrick Hudson: The Best American Poetry from 2015 published a writer in yellowface.

Congratulations to Yi-Fen Chou, whose poem “The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve” was selected for inclusion in the Best American Poetry anthology for 2015. BAP, launched in 1988 by the writer and professor David Lehman, is co-edited every year by a visiting literary starlord. This year, that starlord was the great Sherman Alexie...

There’s just one problem: Yi-Fen Chou’s real name isn’t Yi-Fen Chou. It’s Michael Derrick Hudson. Hudson, who works for the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Indiana (and from whom we might expect a fuller understanding of the difference between Anglo-European and Chinese lineage), explained his nom de plume in a contributor’s note:

After a poem of mine has been rejected a multitude of times under my real name, I put Yi-Fen’s name on it and send it out again. As a strategy for ‘placing’ poems this has been quite successful for me. The poem in question … was rejected under my real name forty (40) times before I sent it out as Yi-Fen Chou (I keep detailed submission records). As Yi-Fen the poem was rejected nine (9) times before Prairie Schooner took it. If indeed this is one of the best American poems of 2015, it took quite a bit of effort to get it into print, but I’m nothing if not persistent.

(Sherman Alexie has published a blog post explaining his decision not to pull Hudson’s poem. It is passionate and charming and asserts that dumping “The Bees” would “cast doubt on every poem I have chosen for BAP.” To me this doesn’t quite follow. I’ve reached out to Alexie and to David Lehman for further comment, as well as to Hudson, and will update this post if I hear back.)

On the other hand, has Hudson’s immoral gambit exposed a flaw in the literary ecosystem? Why should a poem be rejected under one name and accepted under another?

September 10, 2015

These situations seem an awful lot like alien abduction stories...

. . . if you replace the people with aliens and the sharks with you (see also X-FILES s3e20, "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'").

September 03, 2015

OMFG JUNKYARD JAM BAND IS DONE DONE DONE!!! Hear samples of rad #DIY music projects! Get FREE projects! @nostarch

Believe it or not, my latest DIY book--Junkyard Jam Band: DIY Musical Instruments and Noisemakers--is finally done, and only 30 months late (!!!)  For the past three+ years I've been toiling on a great big book of DIY music projects, and it went to the printer last Friday--all 400(!!!) pages of it!  That's 16 projects, ranging from some quick-kid-fun-on-a-rainy-day noisemakers to full-blown grown-up analog synthesizers and effects.  The web site now has video samples and a full audio table of contents, so you can hear all the projects before you decide to build (scroll down to the bottom of the page for audio samples). Here's a little video taste of what's in the book:

Since the book is going into print shortly (copies will hit shelves in early October), that special Early Bird discount price is going to disappear. If you'd still like to beat Amazon's price while supporting independent publishing (and get the multi-format DRM-free ebook at no additional fee), download the Junkyard Jam Pack PDF, which features the two most popular music projects from my first DIY book, and includes a 30% off coupon code that's good for either of my books. 

  • Get your free Junkyard Jam Pack PDF NOW!

    And, hey: Spread the word! I'm really pumped to have this book out, heading into the world to spread the DIY music love, and a strong kick-off really, really means the world to me. The more folks who are building their own amps, electric diddley bows, synths and sound-toys, the better. Thanks!

  • August 28, 2015

    There Are Many Things Which I'll Always Love...

    ...and the Charles Mingus CAT-alog for Toilet Training Your Cat is most certainly one of them. God bless you, Charles Mingus. God bless you, Nightlife.

    Charles Mingus Cat Toilet Training Program | Charles Mingus: The Official Site

    While we're on the topic, see also and this and this and this and this and so on. Just keep reading until someone yells at you.

    August 27, 2015

    Listen: If We Don't Start Taking Trump Seriously, He Will be President #FACT #NotJoking

    credit: DonkeyHotey

    This excellent and instructive set of posts really concisely analyzes the marketing savvy underpinning Donald Trump's political crazy talk. Consider it mandatory reading for anyone who 1) currently lives and votes in the United States or 2) ever plans to attempt to earn any money in any manner:

  • Clown Genius | Scott Adams Blog

  • Can We Call a Trump Puppet a Trumpet? | Scott Adams Blog

    This analysis aside, here's why I'm absolutely convinced that, if we stay the course, Donald Trump will be President:

    I see smart, political-aware, left-leaning progressives once again doing *exactly* what they did when George W. Bush ran: Bemusedly watching a desperately outclassed clown-candidate fumble every media event like a stumble drunk, and then archly snarking: "Who are all these people that are supposed to vote for this guy? I don't know anyone who would ever vote for him!"

    And *that* dumpster-fire of a President got elected twice--and put tens if not hundreds of thousands of people in their graves. So, howsabout we don't go and do the same dumb, cynical bullshit again?

    Just to be clear: I'm not suggesting you go out, insult and dogpile on pro-Trump folks--'cause that's exactly the way we got Bush elected *twice*; a shrill liberal freak-out is baked into Trump's strategy. I'm suggesting that we really set our minds to trying to understand how it is that folks who are enthusiastic about Trump got to that place, without assuming it's because they are "dumb bigots."

    If you're wondering, "Jeez; how the fuck do I talk to someone who is head-over-heels for Trump?" My experience: Make sure that your side of the conversation only consists of questions. And not thin-ass rhetorical questions like "Why do you love that bigot, stupid?" Real questions, like: "OK; why do believe Mexican immigrants are disproportionately criminal? Is that actually true?" 'cause 10 minutes of googling reveals this table:

    compiled be a *very* reliably Conservative writer, Heather Mac Donald, and based on DoJ National Crime Victimization Survey data. You'll note that, as perpetrators, Hispanics account for 14.8% of violent crime, despite being 17.1% of the total population--in terms of violence, they're actually *underperforming* [insert your own "lazy Mexican" joke here, bigot].[*]

    The point here isn't to zing anyone; it's to compassionately invite them to join you in a place where reasonable humans will begin to properly question how reasonable this American Savior's claims are.

    Anyway, the Big Picture: Let's maybe stop being Trump's strawman, ok?

    photo credit: DonkeyHotey

    [*] Since my regular readers seem to deeply enjoy my penchant for footnoted fact-based poindexterity, here's a fun set of tidbits:

    1) While Hispanics lag behind in committing violent crimes, they are victims of 17.7% these crimes (as calculated from Table 5 numbers in the 2013 DoJ Criminal Victimization bulletin)—about what you'd expect, given that they're 17.1% of the population. All that said, does my data disprove Trump's claim? Clearly, no: "Mexicans" are a small subset of "Hispanics" and "undocumented Mexicans" an even smaller sub-set of that. Can we expect differences in behavior among these groups? Maybe, but if anything undocumented immigrants appear to commit violent and property crimes at a *lower* rate than their naturalized peers.

    2) As part of his "We need a wall and Mexico needs to pay for it!" spiel, Trump repeats the conservative canard that: "[The Mexican government has] even published pamphlets on how to illegally immigrate to the United States." In case you're wondering, here's the pamphlet in question. My Spanish isn't superfantástico, but this comic book clearly begins by telling people that the safe way to immigrate is through official channels with appropriate paperwork, and warns that unofficial crossing is both dangerous and illegal. It goes on to describe the dangers of crossing the desert, forging rivers, being victimized by human smugglers, and then being victimized by employers once you are across the border illegally. It strongly discourages using false documents, lying to American law enforcement, fleeing law enforcement, being armed in any way, or breaking the law in any way. If you get in trouble, the pamphlet advises, you have certain rights, and should contact the consulate. The pamphlet closes with: "This [guide] does not promote crossing [the border] without legal documentation required by the United States government; its objective is to make known the risks and to inform about the rights of migrants regardless of their legal residence." It's a pretty run-of-the-mill government document. It was published 11 years ago and "thousands" of copies were distributed; at the time it was published, even folks of a seemingly anti-Mexico persuasion found the idea of using this as an "invasion blueprint" laughable: "But as a survival guide for Mexicans seeking a better life in el Norte, Guía del Migrante Mexicano fails miserably." As near as I can tell, it hasn't been in print in ages; in fact, the only place you can find it online anymore is on White Nationalist websites, as an inflammatory example of the immigrant invasion, or whatever.

    Nonetheless, this historical footnote is prominently featured in the platform of a 2015 U.S. presidential candidate, where it is characterized as a guide to "illegally immigrate to the United States."

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    About the Author

    David Erik Nelson is an award-winning science-fiction author and essayist. His fiction has appeared in Asimov's, The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, and Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded.

  • Find him online at www.davideriknelson.com
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