It’s been a few years since I dragged out my bottomless bag of (lost and found) online articles and tidbits. Read on for: a list of “bad” stories to avoid if you want to get published, a travel calculator to help plan your next space adventure, and vintage computer ads that might make you snort—and more!
■ For Writers
How to Write a Sword Fight
A. Howitt’s article “Swordplay for Fantasy Writers,” posted to the Mystic Scribes website, covers the basics of realistic swordplay to include balance, timing, footwork, a progression of skills, and offensive/defensive moves. The author’s intent was “to make swordplay accessible to anyone, so writers didn’t feel bombarded with terminology, but got just a hint of it to put into their work.” A few cool videos are included in the post.
Stories to Avoid Writing
The editorial team at Strange Horizons has seen so many recurring (overdone and annoying) story lines they felt the need to compile them in a list in “Stories We’ve Seen Too Often.” Many publications link to this 51-item list as part of their own submission guidelines. Though geared toward speculative fiction (with horror having its own list), many of the points are valid for other genres, such as, “A place is described, with no plot or characters,” and “People whose politics are different from the author’s are shown to be stupid, insane, or evil, usually through satire, sarcasm, stereotyping, and wild exaggeration.” Number 4 is one of my favorites – getting to the end of the book and discovering the story is a dream or takes place in virtual reality, or the protagonist is insane or is writing a novel (and the story is part of that novel).
Anders Sandberg discusses the possible existence of toroidal planets in “What would the Earth be like if it was the shape of a donut?” He also details how gravity, light, seasons, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere might work.
Space Travel Calculator
Want to know how long it would take to reach a planet or star by spacecraft? Or how much energy your craft will need and the maximum velocity it will reach? How about observer vs. traveler time-lapse? Visit Nathan Geffen’s site, enter the distance to your destination, click calculate, and watch the little rocket move across time and space.
■ For Fun
Just Married Window Clings
Need a nifty gift for a geeky couple? Choose from nine themes: 8-bit Love, Back to the Future, Chalkboard Love, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Sherlock, Spiderman, Star Wars, and Zombie Love. The philosophy of Anthony Herrera Designs is, “We are not going to spend the time creating it, if it’s not fun. Life’s too short for that.”
“Ancient” Computer Ads
The decades-old newspaper and magazine advertisements included in “18 Vintage Computer Ads That Are So Bad It Hurts” are a humorous contrast with our current computer choices (especially in price). Computers and peripherals have come a long way since I first learned to program using punch cards in the early 80s!
■ If I Only Had the Money
Photographer Rob Lovato captures fantastic images from around the world, the kind I would love to admire on the walls of my own home. I’ve seen many of these displayed, and they’re gorgeous. I especially like the night sky photos. Paper prints are available at a reasonable price, but I want a large one “infused directly into a specially-coated aluminum sheet to create a print with incredible luminescence, detail, and durability.” Of course, choosing just one would be impossible…
What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve found on the internet this year?