T.N. Tobias

A Game of Thrones Read-Along: Prologue

Last month, I fessed to not being up to speed on the major epic fantasy series of the day. As it were, the poll-taking populace (and a few folks on twitter) set me off with a task to catch up via George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. A paperback purchase later and I’m ready to share all the gory details as I set out on my journey. I’ll be giving notes on my reaction here and if you’d like to follow along, feel free. If you’ve already read the book, this read-along should be good preparation for the HBO series A Game of Thrones due to premiere in April.

Spoiler Alert: I am under the impression that I am the only person in the civilized world who has not read this book and therefore heavy spoilers follow. Proceed at your own risk.


Instead of waxing on about the land, or lecturing on about some great foe of history, Martin drops us into the mind of young Will as he rides north with Ser Waymar Royce. A brief conversation is had about the status of some “wildings” though it isn’t explained exactly what they are, aside from the fact that they are dead. The dialog is good here. Royce’s subordinates want to flee, telling him “dead men sing no songs.” “My wet nurse said the same thing,” he replies.  ”Never believe anything you hear at a woman’s tit.”

And so Royce and Will travel to the ridge overlooking the village where the dead men were spotted only to find they are no longer there. Will takes this to be a sign of danger and again wants to flee. Royce instead commands him to climb up a tree, believing the men had moved on and could be spotted from above by their fires. Ominous signs leading up to this decision make it clear that Royce has made the wrong decision and he is soon surrounded by strange creatures that materialize out of the cold. Will watches from his perch in the tree as the young knight is defeated and stays there until the danger has passed. As he collects the fallen man’s sword, Royce gains his feet and looks down over him with icy blue eyes, wrapping his dead hands around Will’s throat.

I had forgotten Dan Well’s call to implement an “Ice Monster Prologue” was named such for the prologue in A Game of Thrones but I can see how he thought this approach would be memorable enough to serve as it’s namesake.

Friday Free for All for February 11th, 2011


Newshour talks the craft of writing.

Benny Hinn is the Dark Lord of the Sith.

Metal. Legos. Awesome.

Books & Writing

The dawning age of credulity. @ Ebert’s Blog

Don’t you like ANYthing? @ The Seven Keys of Ventoozlar

Asking for the right feedback. @ Write Anything

Self-publishing reality check. @ Storyfix

Organize your work with Dropbox. @ Fuel Your Writing

Finding the inciting incident. @ The Blood-Red Pencil

Resources for writing hard SF. @ Mike Brotherton

More common fiction mistakes. @ The Creative Penn

Coping with a low social IQ. @ Copyblogger

Productivity tips for writers. @ Write to Done

Around the Web

Bringing SF UI’s to the real world.

“I do anything.”

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday and I really have nothing else to say other than that. Instead, here’s Neil Gaiman speaking truth about piracy and the internet.


SF Signal

The fine folks over at SF Signal offered me spot on their blog roster and I have graciously taken them up on it. My first post, "Genre Publishing as a Light in the Dark" is up on the site this afternoon. Please head over and check them out, it really is a first class outfit. Many thanks to John DeNardo and Charles A. Tan for linking to me in the earliest days of this blog.

Friday Free for All for February 4th, 2011


Louis C.K. on why you can’t tell your kids the truth.

What would Neptune look like orbiting earth?

Books & Writing

Your scenes suck. @ Storyfix

Mark Charan Newton’s City of Ruin hits the internet early. @ Genre Reader

Piecing together the final months of James Joyce. @ Recently on This Recording

Thoughts on Apple vs Amazon. @ Tobias S. Buckell

"The Good Detective" by M. John Harrison. @ Ambiente Hotel

How and why to write. Part 4. @ Recently on This Recording

Editing fiction anthologies. Part 1. @ Ecstatic Days

Stupid future. @ This isn’t Happiness

The best of the Drabblecast. @ Diabolical Plots

The first draft is allowed to suck. @ Fuel Your Writing

1Q84 coming to America. @ Jacket Copy

Editor sued for a bad review. @ Through a Forest of Ideas

Around the Web

Good fucking design advice.

The RPM Challenge, Nano for Musicians.

Make your own Samoas.

The cosmos may be 250x bigger.

5 Ways to Avert Writing Disaster

hindenburgEveryone has a story about losing a promising piece of writing. Whether Word gives up the ghost without the document being saved, the battery runs dry on a laptop right in the middle of the climactic scene, or a hard drive crashes taking our un-backed up work with it, we all know how close we are to utter ruin.

There are steps to take, however, to keep these disasters at bay. Let’s look at a few low cost ways to keep our writing, and our sanity, intact.

1. Autosave: The most common way we lose work is by not saving it. This can be avoided in nearly every modern piece of software by enabling the autosave. Newer copies of MS Word call this AutoRecover. It’s always a good habit to sneak in a Ctrl+S during the writing process to ensure your masterwork is getting saved at regular intervals as well.

2. Dropbox: Without a consistant backup, it’s always a possibility that you’ll lose your work forever. Defend against this with a free Dropbox account. Dropbox syncronizes one directory on you computer with a remote storage server. In the event that you lose access to your computer, those files are stored away safely. You are able to store up to 2GB for free and if you use this link to sign up, we’ll both get a little extra.

3. USB Backup: While Dropbox may serve as a full featured backup solution for some of us, anyone with heavy data backup requirements will probably want to invest in a backup drive of some type. Clickfree backup drives have a reasonable price point, dead simple operation, and even wireless operation if you’re willing to pony up for the feature.

4. Revision History: Ever accidentally save a document over top of another, losing the data from the original file? Most operating systems warn you away from doing this but we are trained as computer users to ignore prompts and answer yes to keep things moving. But with revision history as a feature in most modern word processors, we can avoid this. Windows 7 has a feature that saves multiple versions of documents in the case that one is overwritten. More on the Previous Versions feature can be found here.

5. Write in the Cloud: We all have our writing tools of choice but if you’re willing to make a change, there are a plethora of options available for online writing that saves you from the disaster of local data loss. Google Docs is rapidly becoming a full fledged office suit located entirely online and with plenty of space to store all your documents. Office Live provides a very reasonable facsimile of Word in the cloud with lots of SkyDrive storage. Sites like My Writing Nook offer more stripped down environments and simpler document management as well as mobile apps for iOS and Android.

Apple Vs Amazon in Ebook Battle Royale?

apple v amazonVarious sources are reporting that Apple is making a move to take control of in-app purchases in order to take a cut of the proceeds. This would mean Apple collecting 30% of ebook revenue from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, etc… Obviously the publishing community is less than stoked to see such a cut in their margins. Would this mean a higher price on ebooks competing directly with Apples flawed iBooks offering? Or will the publisher, and therefore author, take the hit on each iOS purchase in order to keep prices down? Apple is holding all the cards and we’ll have to see which one they play.

Author and technology pundit Tobias S. Buckell did a double dose of blogging on the subject and, in my opinion, came to a few flawed conclusions. First, I think Amazon migrating to a web based reading solution is a great idea. Despite rumblings of the limitations of the mobile web, much has changed since the dawn of the iPhone and there are compelling applications already doing exactly this thing. Ibis Reader can install as a web application outside of the App Store, has local storage thanks to HTML 5, and does all of the other neat tricks like remembering your page between devices. Not only that, but the application is identical if you happen live in the other 75% of the iOS divide with an Android, Blackberry, or WebOS device.

Second, I don’t see any reason for Amazon to buckle to Apple’s pressure. I’ve not seen any data to suggest that as much as 50% of Kindle purchases are from iOS devices. Amazon has too much to lose to yeild any ground on pricing and they’re certainly not going to hand over profits to a competitor. Apple, while a juggernaut of consumer technology, is not strong in the ebook business and while I’m sure they won’t care whether Amazon stays or goes, their product will certainly suffer from the absence of a Kindle app.

None of this is to say that Buckell might not turn out to be completely correct in his prognostication on the outcome, but there are definitely compelling arguments to the contrary. Much as we bemoaned the licensing principles that Microsoft introduced to become the dominate software company of the age, we should also bemoan Apple’s stand to take a cut of every red cent of revenue produced to support their hardware. It’s not so much a walled garden as a toll bridge, one that always guarantees that Apple is the only one to benefit from innovation. Let’s hope they don’t up the ante by playing rough with the competition.