Friday, August 7, 2009

A Media Triptych

Dear readers, do you ever get tired of, well, reading? When you reach the end of the work week, do you sometimes want to rest your eyes on anything but print on a page or screen? It may be heresy to admit it, but sometimes I do. So for the word-weary on this Friday afternoon, here's a trio of eye-easy media offerings.

Odyssey Writing Workshop, a six-week intensive training session for writers held annually in New Hampshire, podcasts excerpts from past lectures by professional authors. Topics range from the nuts and bolts of world building to the role of humor in speculative fiction to how to pen the perfect query letter. While nearly all of the thirty-or-so podcasts are worthwhile, SF-veteran Robert J. Sawyer's talk on maintaining a coherent point of view is particularly valuable. In addition to explaining the various storytelling structures, Sawyer provides specific examples of common POV violations. You can directly download his talk here.

Though I've largely enjoyed the lean crime thrillers of
Richard Stark and Jean-Patrick Manchette, I must admit to being something of a noir neophyte, having weaned myself on Ray Bradbury and John Christopher as a teen. For those who want to school themselves on the genre, I'd be hard pressed to come up with a better primer than a recent appearance by Detectives Beyond Borders' Peter Rozovsky on Wisconsin Public Radio. He and Hirsh Sawhney, editor of Delhi Noir, discuss the category's defining characteristics, its transcultural reach and (very interestingly) a thematic thread that appears in many noir stories -- compassion. You can listen to the hour-long show at WPR's Web site.

Robots! Don't we love them? As you can see
in this video, scientists are spending scads of grant money teaching them how to bounce rubber balls at dizzying speeds, catch foam blocks and twirl sticks. Fun stuff. But as soon as the little metal guys start speaking in Austrian accents, I'm grabbing a shovel and starting work on the fallout shelter.

(Picture: CC 2009 by

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