Across the Pond: The Uncanny Valley

There’s a hypothesis in the field of aesthetics called “The Uncanny Valley”, which in the simplest terms states that as the features of some thing move more “naturally”, there is a dip (“valley”) in the comfort level of human observers. I first heard it applied to robots — so a robot which looks vaguely humanoid but is still clearly a robot is much less freaky than a robot that looks and moves almost exactly — but not quite — like a human.

It’s also often applied to animation, to explain why Disney is cool but certain 3-D animation movies (The Polar Express, or the 2007 Beowulf) really…aren’t.

But I’d like to expand the usage of the term, if I may, and argue that the Uncanny Valley also applies to… Continue reading

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Housekeeping, and Announcements

No Friday Fiction today — instead, some announcements.

The Hiatus

That last long hiatus? Was because of exams. Somehow, despite this semester appearing to be fairly light, I ended up with ridiculous amounts of work at the end of the term. (Seriously: FOUR TERM PAPERS, plus a final exam paper, three final exams, a stats project, and the 15-page summary of an 800 page textbook).

And now I’m done. Continue reading

Eclectic Reader Challenge

I read a lot. I always have.

What I don’t always do is read in many different genres. Sure, occasionally there will be a book someone suggests or lends me which falls outside the parameters of fantasy and science fiction, and I’ll give it a go. But those are few and far between. (Actually Lily/Rat has been force-feeding me Jodi Picoult books for a couple years now and I’m enjoying them just fine. As long as they have happy endings. I will not read the sad ones.)

So today, when I came across the “Eclectic Reader Challenge” while wasting time on the interwebs, it seemed like the perfect way to get me reading something new.

The challenge is to read one book in each specified genre. The categories are:

  • Translated fiction
  • Historical mystery
  • Romantic suspense
  • Made into a movie
  • New Adult
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Dystopian
  • Memoir
  • LGBT
  • Action Adventure
  • Humour
  • Published in 2013

 Join in, if you’d like and have the time. And suggestions are welcome, particularly in categories I don’t usually read (LGBT, Action adventure, Romantic suspense) or anything I don’t already have a book listed for.

I have some ideas already for what I will read, which I will share here. And I’ll offer some comments, if not a full review, after each book.

  • Translated fiction – THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS, ISABEL ALLENDE
  • Historical mystery – A MURDEROUS PROCESSION, ARIANA FRANKLIN
  • Romantic suspense – THE HEIST, JANET EVANOVICH AND LEE GOLDBERG
  • Made into a movie – The Silver Linings Playbook, or Sense and Sensibility. Or both.
  • New Adult – DARK LIGHT OF DAY, JILL ARCHER
  • Urban Fantasy – MAGIC BITES, ILONA ANDREWS
  • Dystopian
  • Memoir -MAO’S LAST DANCER, LI CUNXIN
  • LGBT – ASH, MALINDA LO
  • Action Adventure
  • Humor- SHADES OF GREY, JASPER FFORDE
  • Published in 2013 -THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, NEIL GAIMAN

In which I venture slightly into publishing and purchase some empty boxes

Greetings. Gosh it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Thanks to Bill for the poking.

A lot is going on in my life right now, most of it terribly mundane. I am cleaning and reorganizing my room (hence the empty boxes – a trip to the Container Store is on the list for today). I am starting not one but two summer jobs, both of which require obscene amounts of paperwork to be completed. And blood tests. I am trying new things to get my skin to clear up (the great bane of my college years. Seriously, I made it through all of high school with no problems and now acne armageddon). I am walking the dog, and making my bed, and dusting the living room, and reading books.

And I am writing.

Not too long ago I joined one of the most lovely writing groups around. I am fortunate enough to get to participate in their latest short story anthology and we are currently coming up on the end of the first critiquing period. I’m gearing up for revisions, as it’s looking like a pretty significant restructuring. Eventually the anthology will be self-pubbed and I’ll put up a link when it is.

I haven’t forgotten about Princess, either – I’m still hashing out plot points for the middle of the book and working up my courage to begin writing in earnest. This novel, I will finish.

In Which I Feel Freaking Amazing

I am totally, completely and utterly IN LOVE with Princess.

I was planning on working through the NaNo prep posts in order, and I still am, but yesterday I was looking ahead to see what was coming up, and I saw a post about antagonists. And sudennly I was off and running, the ideas coming thick and fast and I almost couldn’t keep up!

My evil king is now something other than the placeholder “evil”. He has reasons for being the way he is. Those reasons make sense in the context of the world I’ve invented. They make him infinitely more interesting, cause now he’s not just depraved, but insane, too. And as a bonus I get to hint at the ultimate antagonist of the series and based on an earlier event it MAKES SENSE THAT KEL WOULD SEE IT!

It all fits perfectly, like it is an actual, real, world and story and not something I’m making up in my head.

There will probably come a time when I’m stuck writing a hard scene and I will say to myself, “Why am I doing this?” And hopefully I can recapture the moment when it all came together and I ran around my dorm room (as much as it is possible to run around in a 200 sq ft room filled with dorm furniture) squealing and screaming “yes!” and generally making a fool of myself. I can only wonder at what the other people on my floor thought was happening.

In other news, I finally have a new pair of boots. I’ve been wanting a specific style of boots for a while now, and I finally found them! So that’s good.

Also, my beautiful little doggy is sleeping next to me. Let’s just say I’m in a good mood.

Choose Your Own Adventure

I always thought those kinds of books were rather stupid, while at the same time really wanting to read one.
 
But that’s not really the point of this post. Remember this post where I mentioned a series of blog posts about NaNo? No, probably not…anyway, looking around the rest of that site, I discovered that the Author was in the process of writing Choose, which the author calls an “interactive web serial”.

It’s not so much a choose-your-own-adventure as it is an interesting, well-written story developed with the input of the readers. Basically the author, one Tami Moore, writes until she feels there is an important (or not-so-important; once the poll had to do with tea flavors) choice to be made regarding the narrative, at which point she posts a poll. The readers then vote and the winning option is included in the story.

Aside from the fact that you have to wait two weeks between installments – and yes, I understand that time is necessary! Things have to be written and edited! It’s hard! But readers are by nature impatient creatures, or at least I am – it’s a really engaging story and you should all go read it now.

In other news I’m currently working on two stories for the princess contest I mentioned in my last post (are there enough links in this post yet?) because I can’t decide which one to use yet. One is a new idea about a princess whose kingdom is in the midst of a military coup pretending to be bringing democracy and her entire family has been slaughtered and she’s running for her life. Not sure where that’s going yet. The other one is an idea that’s been on my list for a while, about a girl who kisses a frog prince and then discovers that he’s not the only one under a spell…I think that’s what I’m going to use for this year’s NaNo, regardless of what happens with the princess contest.

Alright, I’m going to wrap up this post now. In summary: Choose is really good go read it; I did a lot of writing today; I’m starting to think about NaNo and it’s got me really excited.

Oh, and this post is full of run-on sentences with too many clauses, but I seem to be in that kind of mood today.

Oh, I also just tagged this post with 10001 different things.