#SFFpit on Twitter Today!

Image courtesy of hqwide.com

Today is #SFFpit on Twitter. You have a chance to pitch your science fiction or fantasy novel to agents in a single tweet.

#SFFpit has already started, since it is 8am-6pm EST, but you still have plenty of time to jump in. 

The rules and details about #SFFpit are here

Make sure your novel is actually finished. If you want to help your friends, you can retweet their tweets but don’t like them, unless you are an agent. 

Unlike other pitch days, #SFFpit is only for sci-fi and fantasy. But what’s great about it is that you can make one pitch per hour. Giving you 10 chances to pitch your story.

Have fun and good luck! 

New Dune Trailer!

The new Dune movie (based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 “Dune”) is slated to come out December 18th, 2020. 

So SOMETHING good will happen in 2020. 

Denis Villeneuve is the director. He also directed Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival. 

The movie will have big name actors such as Jason Momoa and Oscar Isaac. 


READ MORE BELOW: 

Dune 2020 Characters Cast Plot Explained  (Polygon)

3 Reasons Why Dune 2020 is Nothing Like Other Dunes (Inverse)

Dune (IMDb)

Citizen Standing – Short Fiction on Citizen Scores

What would it be like if a society had “citizen scores” in addition to “credit scores?” The government develops a number to evaluate their judgement of your character as a person. This number governs every aspect of your life.

I decided to write a short cyberpunk story about a fictional society that is run by citizen scores and apps. It got published in The Weird and Whatnot Magazine. 

You can read it here!

Interview With Successful Self-Published Author – Martin Wilsey

(Shadows of the Sentinel. Just published today. Check it out on Amazon!)

Martin Wilsey is living the dream. He is a self-published author who was able to sell enough of his books to quit his day job and focus exclusively on writing. But I will warn people that this path isn’t easy. Not everyone who throws a kindle book on Amazon can make a living off of it. Most won’t. The average self-published book sells under 250 copies and 25% of all authors surveyed earned $0 in book-related income. (Medium)

So how to make it work? I decided to find that out by interviewing Martin Wilsey himself.

JBJ: How did you get into writing science fiction? 

MW: It is an odd path. I always loved reading SciFi and Fantasy. I read about a hundred books a year and always wanted to write one myself. Over the decades, starting in the early 80s, I tried several times. I was not trained in writing. I took a couple of creative writing courses from teachers that hated SciFi. I always sucked at spelling and grammar, so in the early days, I was discouraged at every turn. I sucked at spelling, but was I was great at computers.

I started blogging in 1994. That got me writing every day. I was enjoying it. And as computers got smarter, tools for spelling and grammar got better. I got better. I still didn’t know what I was doing yet. I’d start one thing and get distracted by another idea and never finished anything. I was in a classic cycle of writer self-sabotage.

They out of the blue, my brother suddenly died at age 52.

There were six siblings in my family, and my brother Eric was 4 of 6. I was 5 of 6. It was a complete kick in the gut. He was the first of us. It really made me assess my entire life. It made me realize that I could go at any time. It made me look at what I wanted to get done before I shed my mortal coil.

The same month Eric died, I managed to get a severe spine injury. It left me unable to do much of anything. I went through Prime and Netflix faster than I thought possible, and to stay sane, I started writing every day.

I was lucky that I had gotten to know a couple of authors that gave me excellent advice. Next thing I knew, I had a novel. STILL FALLING. To my great surprise, it hit number 1 in the Hard Science Fiction category.

I never stopped writing. I have published projects about every six months since then.

JBJ: Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?

MW: My decision to go the self-publishing route was easy.  I submitted my novel to several agents, and their suggestions for changes were horrible. Deals offered were worse. I wanted to retain full rights to my stories. Createspace was already running, and it looked like a far better option for me. 70% royalty sounded way better than the 13% offered by traditional routes. I also had the power of not caring about the money. I had a great career and an even better salary as a research scientist. So on March 31, 2015, I self-published STILL FALLING.

Less than three years later, I was able to quit my day job and write full time. I got to retire eight years ahead of schedule at 57 years old.

JBJ: What is the most difficult thing about self-publishing?

MW: As an Indie-Author, it’s all on you. There are hundreds of things to learn that have nothing to do with writing. It’s a lot of work. All the jobs are your job. I think the hardest job, the farthest from writing, is Marketing. The Marketing aspect still evades me. It turns out the best marketing is to keep writing.

JBJ: What is the best thing about self-publishing? 

MW: You are the Boss. Everyone works for you. You get to decide EVERYTHING. This is awesome if you are a control freak like me.

There are lots of people that work for me now: Accounts, Lawyers, Editors, Illustrators, Cover Designers, Web Designers, PR People, Audio Producers, Narrators, Interns, Translators, Beta Readers, and more.

Managing it all is a lot of work, but I love it. I get to keep my Intellectual Property, and I receive the maximum percentage of the royalties.

JBJ: What is your advice for other authors who want to self-publish? 

MW: Finish things. Don’t work on more than one thing at a time. Finish all the way before moving to the next project. Otherwise, you will never finish anything. It’s the most common sort of self-sabotage.

Pay for an Editor. It’s an investment, not an expense. The best story in the world will not sell and get bad reviews if the editing is not up to par.

Pay for a great cover. People DO judge books by their cover. A cover must be professional, genre-appropriate, and easy to read as a thumbnail in Amazon.

JBJ: What books have been the most inspirational to you in your work? 

MW: I have been profoundly inspired by Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clark, Simon Hawke, JRR Tolkien, and other classic SciFi.

The books I like the most about the craft are ON WRITING by Stephen King and SAVE THE CAT! WRITES A NOVEL by Jessica Brody.

JBJ: Would you like to share anything about your most recently published work, Shadows of the Sentinel? 

MW: SHADOWS OF THE SENTINEL is a stand-alone novel that takes place in the Solstice 31 universe. It’s a companion book to VIRTUES OF THE VICIOUS. The novel is available now in Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover, and on October 1, the Audio edition is scheduled for release. For more information, check out the links below. 

JBJ: By the way, how is your cat? 

MW: Great! Excellent!


SHADOWS OF THE SENTINEL

However did it come to this? Cobb wanted a simple life. He wanted excellent steaks, great coffee, friends, and a quiet place to restore his favorite ship. Working for a recovery operation turned out to be the best place to find parts cheap. She had other plans for him. He wanted the staff of the deep space salvage ship, OXCART, to treat him just like another member of the crew. Not the man he really was.  Light-years from Earth, he thought his secrets, his past, wouldn’t matter. Especially not to her. When that past leads them to the SENTINEL, like it or not, the biggest single salvage of all time will change everything. Some secrets are so big, they can start a war. Or stop one. Or remain too big to explain when the timing could not be worse. And it was all the damn cat’s fault.

Buy it off Amazon.


MARTIN WILSEY’S LINKS

Amazon Books

Audible

Martin Wilsey Official Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Free Short Story on Audio

In Search of Tomorrow – The Definitive 80’s Sci-Fi Documentary (Official Trailer)

In Search of Tomorrow, from director David Weiner, is a four-hour-plus retrospective of ‘80s Sci-Fi movies featuring interviews with actors, directors, writers, SFX experts, and composers.

The film takes the viewer on a year-by-year deep dive into the most iconic and eccentric science fiction films of the 1980s, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Blade Runner, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Back to the Future, Dune, RoboCop, Aliens, Tron, WarGames, The Terminator, Ghostbusters, 1984, Brazil, Predator, Akira, The Road Warrior, The Thing, The Abyss, Short Circuit, Highlander and several more. The film also examines the science and technology behind the fiction amid insider tales of the creative process.

The movie is supposed to come out in 2021.

The video above seems too long for a movie trailer in my opinion (a whopping 3.45 minutes!) It doesn’t say much about the making of the documentary and who is involved, but it did show a lot of killer sci-fi moments from 80s cinema, so that was cool.

Looking forward to watching the documentary when it comes out.

LINKS

In Search of Tomorrow – Kick Starter

IN SEARCH OF TOMORROW Documentary Explores ’80s Sci-Fi (Nerdist)

In Search of Tomorrow Wikipedia Page

Fan Opinions on New Star Trek (Reddit Edition)

As a fan of the older Star Trek shows, I was curious to hear what fans thought about the newest stuff. I’m talking about Discovery (2017), Picard (2020), and Lower Decks (2020). So I went to r/scifi to investigate.

See the Reddit thread here!

I’m not saying Reddit is representative of what all people everywhere think. People on the internet tend to be more critical than people in person (as I know being a fan in random communities). But Reddit offers a good way to get the opinions of a sample size of random fans of a particular subject, especially when I’m stuck in quarantine and can’t exactly go interview a hundred random people in person and hope that they watch Star Trek. With Reddit’s system of upvoting, you get to see which comments resonated with people more than others. So I find it a more valuable medium for opinion gathering than Facebook (where I’m limited to people who are my friends) and Twitter (for the same reason).


So let’s get down to it! What did the hundred+ random Star Trek fans I interviewed on Reddit think about the new Star Trek? 

The top-voted comments on the Reddit thread disliked both Picard and Discovery overall. And the most downvoted comments were the ones that voiced approval.

I decided to take a tally of the comments and break it down into like, dislike and neutral (for people who had mixed reviews). This is my count as of now (8/11/20 11:03am), it doesn’t account for new comments added after this. I also only counted the parent comments. This does not follow the nested comments of those parent comments (because those are discussions that involve the OG commenter elaborating on their point).


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A general theme I noted is that people in r/scifi felt that the new Star Treks lacked continuity with the older Star Treks. They felt that the science in Discovery was not as robust as it was in previous generations (with the questionable Spore Drive). Some people said Discovery and Picard would have been good if they were a completely separate scifi series that wasn’t connected to the Star Trek universe (because of the consistency issues and departure from canon). Other people had issues with the writing and felt that these series focused on explosions and action while missing out on the deeper philosophical questions that originally made Star Trek great (so basically becoming Transformers?). A lot of people felt that the mood of Discovery didn’t match the optimism of Star Trek in general, that it was cynical and filled with betrayal.

There weren’t many comments on the animated series Lower Decks (2020), mainly because people either hadn’t watched it or were focused on discussing Discovery and Picard.


Here are some of the top comments on the thread: 

“They are very disappointing as a long term mega-fan since childhood. Seems the essence and spirit of the trek series is basically gone…I’ve lost complete interest in the franchise.”

“The problem with Picard, and all of nuTrek, is that it doesn’t seem to feel like it has to respect any of the rules that the existing canon created, and then on top of that it doesn’t even seem interesting in respecting the new rules they have created even within a season. That is just top to bottom bad writing.”

“They completely lack what made ST unique. Picard might as well be a gritty FX drama and Discovery some generic sci-fi show with Marvel elements thrown in. There’s no imagination, no wonder, no optimism for the future. Teamwork, bonding, shared experiences and friendships are almost non-existent. We’re left with betrayal, backstabbing, and general mean-spiritedness. The futuristic setting has been abandoned. The characters all wear what looks like 20th century clothing and have 20th century problems and use 20th century slang. Everyone’s bitter, depressed, addicted, cynical. I find it hard to watch just based on this.”


How about the people who liked it…or at least liked some of it?

“Just to be a contrarian against the one other post, I loved Picard and am very lukewarm on Discovery. Picard certainly deviated from canon and had a few story beats I didn’t agree with (I really dislike bitter, cynical starfleet), but the core of Picard’s optimism, his ability to inspire and get people to follow him loyally, and his core belief in the goodness of people is there. I enjoyed it a lot. Plus the fully HD re-render of the Galaxy-class was worth the price of admission. Discovery does not feel like Star Trek at all to me. It’s not optimistic. It’s bitter and combative, full of betrayal, horrible outcomes, fighting, insults. It’s also heavily serialized which makes one-off episode watching feel pretty pointless. That’s also true of Picard, to be fair.”

“They were enjoyable. Could have used more Star Trek flavor, but still good enough to watch.”

“I like them. I was actually growing tired of episodic format and prefer short seasons with one big story arc. Some of the best Trek episodes are two/three part episodes, so I’d rather see more of this. Sure, Discovery and Picard have flaws, but the production is so different, writers are squeezing so many easter eggs into every episode, I honestly don’t care if they make another movie based on Jar Jar Abrams universe, Simon Pegg can’t fuck right off.”


So some people liked it and some people didn’t. But a majority of the comments seemed to dislike the newer Star Treks, while those who did like them were downvoted into the basement.

On Rotten Tomatoes for Picard, critics gave it an 87% while the audience gave it a 57%.  If you add the Picard likes to the Picard neutral comments of the scifi reddit thread, you get a similar percentage, that 51% of the people who commented didn’t hate it.

On Rotten Tomatoes for Discovery, critics gave it an 81% while the audience gave it a 42%. If you add the Discovery likes to the Discovery neutral comments on the scifi reddit, you get a similar percentage, that 48% of the people who commented didn’t hate it.

On Rotten Tomatoes for Lower Decks, critics gave it a 63% while the audience gave it a 31%.

Now what’s interesting, is if you look up Orville (Seth MacFarlane’s parody of Star Trek) on Rotten Tomatoes, you’ll see that critics gave it a 65% while the audience gave it a whopping 94%!

One reddit comment stated: “The spirit of Star Trek is alive and well in The Orville.”

What’s interesting to me is that critic scores are completely different from audience scores. Are they right? Are they wrong? Art is subjective. So that’s not for me to decide. I simply set out to find out what a sample size of people on r/scifi thought about the newer Star Trek, and it seemed that their opinions were fairly consistent with the audience’s views on Rotten Tomatoes.

But of course, if you want to find out what you really think about the newer Star Trek, watch it yourself on CBS All Access.

Tron 3 is Finally In The Works!

After ten years, Disney is finally moving forward with a new Tron movie after being in a state of cryogenic production freeze. Tron 3 will be starring Jared Leto.

Jared Leto has said the following. “I’m struck with such gratitude for the opportunity to bring this movie to life, especially as both the original video game and the film affected me so deeply as a young child. The fact that I get to be a part of this new chapter is mind-blowing.” (Games Radar)

“I am so very excited and proud to confirm that YES – I will be starring in TRON. We will work as hard as we possibly can to create something that I hope you all will love.  We have some very special ideas in store for you all…” (Games Radar)

Tron 3 will be directed by Garth Davis, whose experience up until this point has been indie dramas. This came as a surprise to many who expected Joseph Kosinski to return as the director. But who knows, maybe Garth Davis will pleasantly surprise us.

“Kosinski helmed Legacy and had long been attached to the third Tron movie. The project sputtered around Disney in the years following Legacy‘s release, with Kosinski saying in 2017 the movie was in a “cryogenic freeze” and thus, signaling to fans a threequel may not have been so sure a thing.” (Collider)

“While Kosinski is not set to return, we can’t say the same for Hedlund, Wilde, or Bridges. There are no plot details on the third Tron movie to spare and so, in combination with Legacy‘s ending, the door is very much open when it comes to any of these actors possibly returning. Then again, whether or not any of them is actively interested in returning in another matter entirely.” (Collider)

It’s worth noting that Disney has been going back and forth, saying they won’t make the movie, that they will, that they’ll make a show on Disney+, that they won’t. So who knows what could happen.

What’s interesting though is that when the original Tron came out in 1982, it was a box-office flop. But in the years following, it became a cult classic.

As to the release date for Tron 3, no date has been given yet.

‘Tron 3’ Moving Forward With Jared Leto to Star, Garth Davis to Direct (Collider)

Tron 3 has been announced and Jared Leto may have just leaked the title (Games Radar)

Tron 3 Back in the Works with Director Garth Davis (Den of Geek)

Watch Singer Perform Fifth Element Song Once Deemed Impossible to Sing

Amazingly talented singer, Jane Zhang, performs a song once deemed impossible to sing: The “Diva Dance” song from Fifth Element.

In an interview, the composer of the Fifth Element song said it was impossible for a human singer to change so quickly between some of the notes, given the range. The notes were recorded individually and digitally combined for the song. However, the singer Jane Zhang accomplishes this seemingly impossible task.

For more information, go here.

New Star Trek Animated Series – Lower Decks

For the first time since 1974, there is a new animated Star Trek series, “Lower Decks.” It follows the characters who have the less glamorous jobs within Starfleet. I myself have often wondered what the rest of the crew does on the massive Enterprise ship.

Lower Decks is available on CBS All Access. It’s described as the “sillier side of Star Trek.” (Keep in mind that there is also The Orville if you want Star Trek with humor)

The reviews for Lower Decks are mixed. Some people really enjoyed it. Some people described it as out of touch baby boomers trying too hard to write humor for Generation Z. Some people asked, “Who is this show for?”

On Rotten Tomatoes the critics gave it a 61% and the audience gave it a 31%.

But of course, the only way to truly know if you like a show is to check it out yourself.

LINKS

Watch Lower Decks on CBS

Star Trek: Lower Decks makes “Second Contact” with its first episode…(Musings of a Middle-Aged Geek)

Lower Decks on Rotten Tomatoes

Lower Decks Reviews on Reddit