54 posts categorized "self-promotion"

March 20, 2006

Mars Description II

I spent yesterday with my friend Jaime in his studio, reading through the novel and making notes (I'm still not done!) and I found this description of Mars, which comes in the first half of the book but which I added near the end of writing the first draft. So it's pretty much the latest description of Mars that I have, which is sort of an end parenthesis to the earliest description of Mars that I posted earlier. Compare and contrast, if you'd like.

(Note: this is Leonard Lord, about a year after the last description. He's just climbed Olympus Mons, the biggest volcano in the solar system.)

I had never been this high off of the ground, this far up. I've never been 16 miles high before. It seems like it should be a euphemism for something. It was nearly impossible to encompass. This was the view I came to Mars for. I had imagined that the bubble ships would be like real ships, approaching a goal slowly, so that for days you could see the shore approaching and approaching, and when you landed, you had the prospect of an unbroken line of land to breach, coming ever nearer, resolving itself slowly into trees, and brakes, and huts, and Indians in canoes ... details. I had thought -- imagined -- that approaching Mars would be something like that, that first we would see a star. Then, more and more, a ball of rock, like Earth, only redder and more strange. Halfway through the trip it would be like the moon to us: something with features we could see, barely, with much squinting, Then the slowing approach, as to a strange shore, with the disc of the planet growing larger and larger and more and more like a world to us, until we were no longer approaching it but in it, and the features on the ground resolved themselves into cities, then individual houses, then the tops of men's heads. I was really looking forward to this, to seeing what a world looked like from so far above, watching a world resolve itself out of a star.

As you know, I was cheated of this view. That is, until the past weeks, when I went up Olympus. The crater is only 75 miles across so it comes to a point and that point, if you think about it, is about as high in the air as I would have been when the details of the planet started to become clear to me on my imaginary ship. It is not quite the same thing, but it is so close that I feel that I have arrived again-or perhaps I have arrived finally, for I feel that something here belongs to me. I have earned something.

What does it look like? Oh Freddy, I've been avoiding the question, for it is nearly impossible to describe. How can you explain being on a planet and yet standing above it as well? You will be thinking of our trip through the Donner Pass (ill-fated trip as it was) and the views we had of the Plains, but it is so much more than that. From the top of Olympus I could not only see the entire disc of the planet 360 degrees around me, but I could also see the curve of the surface. We have never seen this, you and I. We've stood on mountain tops and taken measurements against the next mountain top and proven to our satisfaction that the Earth is, indeed, a sphere, but we have never seen the floor of the Earth curving, like the ball it is. On Olympus I saw the planet I stood on -- the ground beneath my feet that held me aloft -- I saw it curving beneath me.

Directly over our heads was a bank of clouds. As we climbed, we'd seen these collecting every morning and then dissipating in the afternoon. The cloudbank was thick enough to filter the sun and the top surface of our outer clothing was cooler than I'd ever felt it since I arrived on Mars. Also, the glare of the suns rays around our eyes was lessened. The very air seemed clearer. Thus, I had a better view of the world than I had had since I arrived. I could see the variations in pink and orange and brown and grey on the ground now. I could see the patterns of the wind shifting the bright yellow and white/salmon dusts across the desert floor. Here was a patch of dunes, like the rippling of burned skin, but much more regular and smooth and beautiful. The waved shadows on the dunes' dark sides grew shorter quickly as the sun rose to its zenith. There was a bare ground of rocks and gravels, the rocks looking more and then less black as I stared at them, trying to make out what their exact color was. They were volcanic rock, no doubt, as all the bedrock in this region is, but pocked with air bubbles, broken and jagged and occasionally reaching for the sky, laid bare -- today only -- who knows about tomorrow -- by the fickle, bright dust that went to play elsewhere for awhile, perhaps forever. And over there, if I turned entirely away, a river of lava, looking exactly like molasses spilled onto a countertop and left by a lazy housewife to harden. There are river flows such as these leaking from this mountain's every pore; this was, perhaps is still, a volcano, but a volcano of a might and power that we have no idea of on Earth. For eons this volcano has been bubbling and spitting and overflowing, with no soul to see it, hear it, or to fear for its life. Fire. Fire!

March 06, 2006

Multiracial Rant

Hey, that was quick! I did the podcast with Carmen Kerckhove of "Addicted to Race" last week and it's already been posted on the "Addicted to Race" site. (It's about halfway through the podcast.) I was originally supposed to rant alone about the subject of a ranty article I wrote recently, but writing the article had de-ranted me. So I asked Carmen to interview me instead. (Plus, I get to talk about porn! Pron!)

As usual, my voice sounded weird to me and it took a while for me to recognize it as my own. I did an exercise on writing "voice" with my high school students two years ago, where I brought in a tape recorder and had everyone read into it. Then I played it back and had everyone respond to how their recorded voices sounded to them. Almost no one liked their voice and most wrote that the reason was that their voices sounded either higher or lower than they had thought they were. No one said their voice was thinner, or richer, or dorkier than they thought. Just higher or lower.

That seems to carry a lot of meaning. The pitch of your voice, that is. Some of the students connected a higher pitch with less confidence and were surprised that they sounded so wimpy; or a lower pitch with masculinity or aggression and were surprised that they sounded so.

This is all by way of saying, I wasn't surprised at the pitch of my voice. I've done a lot of public readings in the past two years and so I've done a lot of rehearsing at home with a tape recorder. I'm not surprised by how my rehearsed voice sounds. I am surprised, though, at how dorky I sound. And I had no idea I said "um" so often.

March 02, 2006

A Podcast! A Podcast, I say!

I'm really, really excited about all the new technology. It's sooo kewl! Makes it possible for me to work my way through the different media (please don't ask me to use the non-word "mediums". It hurts) on a purely amateur basis. Frex, last September I got to read part of a story on the radio (I'm in the last five minutes of the show)! Now I'm bloggin'! And next week, I will be cast to pod!

Carmen Van Kerckhove and Jen Chau (both multiracial) have teamed up in the past few years to produce several vital projects dealing with multiracial and interracial relationship issues including New Demographic (a diversity training company that does more than just spin your wheels and reinforce positive stereotypes), Mixed Media Watch (a blog about media representations of mixed race people), and Swirl, Inc. (a nonprofit Jen started in New York City to address multiracial issues.)

Their relevant project here is Addicted to Race, a regular podcast on multiracial and interracial relationship issues. They do rants and interviews, and have guest commentary, and in Episode 15, they have what must be one of the last interviews with the late Octavia Butler. These two really keep their eye on the ball (well, it's their job), so if you have any interest in a non-traditional take on race issues, subscribe to Addicted to Race.

In any case, with regard to their eye on the ballage, Carmen and Jen caught my Pop and Politics article on the falsehood of the dream of ending race through fucking interracially until everyone is kinda brown. So Carmen interviewed me by phone yesterday on the subject and the thing will be part of their podcast sometime next week. I'll let y'all know when. Until then, do check out their other stuff. Much worth a look!

February 22, 2006

Tip Jar

Another new feature is that I've added a tip jar to the upper left. This means you can give me munny!

Unless otherwise specified (yes, you can say that you want me to have the munny!), tips to the SeeLight Tip Jar will go to the Carl Brandon Society, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction.

I'm a member of the CBS steering committee. You can read more about CBS here.

Our programs currently include two annual literary awards, and two annual writing workshop scholarships.

ps. I'm actually posting this on November 18, 2007, but I have to put it on the blog's first page for stupid administrative reasons.

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