Good News: Wikipedia not in decline

I’m glad to pass this update on regarding Wikipedia – apparently the stats are wrong and they are not losing lots of editors:

A big relief I am sure. I for one really appreciate Wikipedia as an easy way to get quick information and to start research into an area of interest. As Cory Doctorow wrote recently, it’s “facts about facts”

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Is Wikipedia going to go Dodo?

Can Wikipedia be relied upon in the future as a serious source of information? Although I think you always need to check facts and references, Wikipedia in the past has always been a sound source of information. But, if, as reported, 49,000 editors have been lost, then surely the site is not going to stay as current as before.

What will happen? Is there a replacement waiting in the wing? Perhaps more focused sites will appear? Or perhaps Wikipedia will change its policy to encourage more participation again?

But maybe it’s just reached a plateau – there’s already a lot of content in there, so to add new stuff requires new events or deeper research.

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Trade eBooks are just a drop in the ocean

The fuss being made by trade publishers over e-books should really be put in perspective:

Over the next four years, Greco predicts these drivers, among others, will result in the US market for professional and scholarly ebooks growing by 94% to $2.60 billion. During the same period, he forecasts that the trade book sector will undergo growth of 119% to $330 million. This would mean that scholarly and professional ebooks will continue to dominate the US market, accounting for 74.7% of ebook revenue through 2013. Even with growth of over 100%, trade books are only forecast to grow to 9.5% of total US ebook revenue.Michael Clarke under, The Scholarly Kitchen, Nov 2009

You should read the whole article.

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Writing on Genre

A bit of a rant about Genre

As a participant in some online critiquing networks I come across a fair amount of unpublished stories written by authors, like myself, who want to get publish. These networks tend to be genre orientated – so for fantasy and science fiction for instance.

I hope I’m not slagging off other people’s work by saying this, but it is surprising how much work is written as fantasy or science fiction, but could be easily transposed to another genre or non-genre with little difficulty. So for instance the basic ingredients of the story and character can stand-alone of fantastical elements or a science fiction theme.

Science Fiction that’s Science Fiction!

Perhaps the best way of describing what I mean is by briefly mentioning a story that is integrated with it’s genre. The example is Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. In this book the premise is that old people can be rejuvenated and made young again, but only if they enlist into the military and go to fight aliens. You couldn’t have this story without the science fiction element of being able to turn back the ageing clock, therefore it’s definitely on message as far as its genre is concerned.

Any Story Any Genre

What you often find with stories that aren’t really integrated with their genre is that the narrative is basically a detective story, or a rites of passage, or a tale of life on the frontier. Rather than the conflict being with the Injuns, it’s with the aliens, or with the Evil Lord’s minions.

Magic as Heavy Artillery

Is this really what fantasy and science fiction should be about? What defines the fantasy genre? It’s surely not about magic as just a better form of firepower, is it?

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Two Poems on Praeter Naturam

Poem About Writing Poetry
Image by Merry~Blues via Flickr

Just to let you know I have posted two poems – not exactly new, as I wrote them a while ago, but new to this site. Hope you enjoy them. I am hoping to add the occasional poem to the site on an ongoing basis.

I think that writing poetry is a great way for a fiction writer to think about words and their meaning in a more precise way.

Downers and Time Slips

Stoical Persistence

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John of Gaunt’s Castles – Mapped on Google

This was a fun exercise!

Reading Armitage-Smith’s biography of John of Gaunt recently, I was intrigued to read that Gaunt held over 30 castles in England and Wales, the most of any noble during the Fourteenth Century. Armitage-Smith handily lists all of the castles, so I have used a Google Maps editing tool to locate these and publish them on the site.

The Tool is Map Maker, and the map I created is here.

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e-Book Publishing Success for Dan Brown?

The Lost Symbol
Image by jorgeq via Flickr

Random House announced that they had increased their e-book sales  400% in the first half of 2009 thanks to e-book sales of Dan Brown‘s The Lost Symbol. However, despite this made up only 5% of book sales – more than for most books, but less than the hype surrounding e-books would suggest.

Meanwhile in the UK, The Book Depository has made a whole load of e-books free (11,000 of them), but guess what? They all seem to be out of copyright titles – anyone?

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Inside the Blogosphere: Worst Endings in Science Fiction and Fantasy

The latest Inside the Blogosphere asked:

What are the worst or most disappointing endings in science fiction/fantasy novels? Why?

Here’s my, no doubt blasphemous, suggestion that the worst ending is for The Lord of the Rings:

“It pains me to say this, as it’s one of my favourite books, but one of the most disappointing endings has to be the fizzling out, living happily ever after ending of The Lord of the Rings. Having experienced such drama and tension throughout the three books the reader doesn’t really expect such a slow winding down to the books. Yes perhaps explain what happens to the characters afterwards, but we really get a bit too much of it. There’s the epilogue where they return to the Shire and everything’s turned a bit sour and they have to sort that out, but after defeating Sauron, this seems a little bit lame. But then Tolkien wasn’t perhaps writing a thriller as such, and he probably didn’t really care too much if readers got a little bit bored, and that’s why his work is so rich and rewarding, so I don’t think I would actually want to change anything either.”

Visit Grasping for the Wind to read the other much better contributions!

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