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Likes and Dislikes

I suppose that the evidence of a half century suggests that I am the kind of person who is given to introspection. I may sometimes be as knee-jerk as the next guy, but more often than not I’ll also sit back (afterwards) and try to figure out why I feel the way I do about something.

Maybe everyone else does this as frequently as I do, but since it’s an internal dialogue, who’d know?

My most recent internal musings have concerned the question of ‘why I don’t like certain genres’ and ‘why I have a problem with remakes’. I’ve come to what I think is an interesting, if preliminary conclusion.

To sum up the facts: I don’t ever think I’ve seen a re-made movie that was better than the original. Maybe one “as good as but different”, but not better. I don’t think I’ve ever seen or read an adaptation that was better than the original (movie to tv, book to movie, etc).

I’ve rarely enjoyed a fantasy novel (Tolkein and Donaldson’s Covenant original trilogy being the exceptions); not even fantasy works by favorite SF authors (Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser tales come to mind as an example) and I’ve utterly failed to be able to make any headway with: horror (excepting a couple by Koontz), urban fantasy, vampire/werewolf, SF romance, paranormal-reality and any number of other derivative, hyphenated sub-genres.

I think that the connection between all of these dislikes has something to do with the nature of the journey, and here’s how.

When you get into a cab, you tell the driver where to go. There might be some interesting things to be seen along the way, maybe a bit of engaging conversation, perhaps even an uexpected event or two – but you’re still on a rail, proceeding inevitably and predictably from point A to point B. You already know the destination. “Take me home from the airport” always ends in the same place.

On the other hand, when you take a road-trip (a real road-trip), you never know what’s going to happen. You pick a cardinal direction, hit a street and proceed until the first interesting thing appears, and then you detour. You might travel a thousand miles while still being within ten miles of your departure point, but you always end up visiting places you’ve never been to.

Re-makes are obviously a cab ride. We know the route and the final destination. The only real question is whether we’re going to get a cab driver who speaks English intelligbly or not. The same is true for adaptations – except maybe this time the cab is a rickshaw or a water taxi.

I’m not sure what kind of vehicle ‘fantasy’ is (this is only preliminary analysis, remember). I do know that it is colored by the fact that between Tolkein and Donaldson – there was an awful lot of Tolkein. Maybe fantasy isn’t a cab anymore, but ever since I got my own car I’ve stopped worrying about cabs.

The sub and sub-sub-genres: I think they’re taxis too. This is because they’ve self-restricted themselves to a particular set of tropes and must stay within that set in order to keep their readers happy: specialization only occurs when there is a niche to fill. Finches with beaks adapted for pulling insects out of dead trees can’t survive on fruit; finches that eat fruit can’t crack nut shells. The moment that a sub-genre steps outside of it’s chosen niche, it is no longer able to nourish its audience. The experiment becomes counter-survival.

I’ve left the cab analogy behind in favor of finches. Here’s where they come back together. The sub-genres are automated taxis. The elm street taxi only travels on Elm street. That’s great if you live and work on Elm, but if you live on Elm and work on Main, you’re going to need to make a transfer. Because of the specialization, like the automated taxi on Elm, you already know the destination.

And that’s fine if you’re a fruit-eating finch and a giant mango is staring you in the face. You’re going to get exactly what you need out of that meal and you’re going to love it.

But if you’re an omnivore, not only does eating mangos day in and day out get boring, it also doesn’t provide for all of your nutritional needs. Eventually you’re going to have to eat a finch.

My experience is that, rather than specializing, science fiction, as a genre, is an omnivoracious road trip. The genre is the progenitor of many, if not most, of the specialist species; its ‘genes’ are adaptable enough to have allowed its descendants to fill all of those niches.

SF is not a taxi, nor is it a finch. It’s a Cadillac, with a full tank of gas, gas shocks, a trunk you can camp in, equipped with stereo surround-sound, GPS, on-board computer and a touchscreen HUD on the windshield. And right smack dab in the middle of that HUD is a button that says ‘random destination’. That button is programmed to take you somewhere you’ve never been before.

I think I mentioned the other day that I signed up with Authonomy. I still haven’t put anything up there, but visiting the site and an NPR discussion with Clay Sharky, the author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power Of Organizing Without Organizations, got me thinking. If a publisher’s slush pile can become a social-networking, distributed activity – why not publishing itself? Authonomy already has a handle on the submission, review and recommendation side of things, now all that’s necessary is to figure out the links to cover design, copyediting, printing, marketing and distribution. Marketing is already partially taken care of by the reader/submitters on the slushpile end of things. Maybe one of those participation-point systems can be used to handle editorial, design and copyediting. Obviously I haven’t wrestled with the question too deeply – yet – but given what is already going on with sites like Authonomy, the folks who are doing the on-line ‘build your own anthology’ (link, please if you know who I’m talking about) and the huge increase in POD-self-publishing, something like the above isn’t too far over the horizon. Maybe small press folks can use sites like Authonomy to identify works they might pick up with an eager and ready market?

I finally read Doctorow’s piece on distractions and time management over at Locus. He has some good, simple suggestions, many of which I already avail myself of (so much for finding THE solutiuon). His high-points are: turn off the social pop-up stuff (like IMs); heck, I never turn those damn things ON to begin with. Commit to writing something everyday (such as your current novel, not the blog) – but don’t over-committ. Maybe write for 20 minutes or a page or two. A page or two in twenty minutes? Well, I guess that’s about right, if you take out the editinig/re-drafting time. So I kind-of already do that.

Leave a ‘hint’ as in – when your time is up, stop, “Stop even if you’re in the middle of a sentence. Especially if you’re in the middle of a sentence.” Here’s where Cory and I part company. i’m just too anal to be able to stop in the middle of

I’m also too emotionally involved in what I’m writing not to continue until the end of the emotion, rather than when my time is up for the day. But I do maintain the central concept of what Cory is suggesting, which is to leave yourself in a place that its easy to start from the next day. I always know where I’m going next and always follow his next suggestion, which is to think about that next scene when I’m not writing.

His final points are: don’t research (while writing). I’ve used pound signs up till now to mark places where I have to stick in researched facts, I’ll probably adopt the ‘TK’ convention.

Dump the word processor. I get the point – don’t play with formatting and etc., but since I was raised on a Royal and still love the old IBM Selectric II, I’ve never treated my word processor as anything other than an electric typer anyways, so I guess you could say I’m already in compliance there too.

Don’t be ceremonious. Are you kidding? I used to have to have quiet and isolation in order to be able to write. Now I think I could almost get the job done with a crowd of people standing around, loudly commenting on the latest page to come out of the printer. Almost – but not quite. What with the wife not understanding ‘don’t interrupt the writer when he’s writing’, the dog thinking that my feet are a chew toy, the house-husbanding errands that must get done daily, the other website that must be maintained. Speaking of which, I have to wash the dishes.

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Israel and Gaza

Despite the fact that I have engaged in discussing politics here previously, I always hesitate to do so. This blog’s focus is not politics or the world at large but (tries) to restrict itself to a narrower focus on things that are fun.

However, I feel compelled to weigh in on the current situation in Gaza and particularly the coverage that it has been receiving from the press at large. And to cover a few points that some folks might need to be reminded of.

First: folks need to get off the idea that there is any real legitimate claim on the land by a ‘Palestinian entity’. Without going into all of the details, the oldest records we have for the region indicate that it was Caananite land and that the semitic tribe known as Hebrews either were or merged with the Caananites in the far distant past.

Those people went on to found what were essentially city-states – Judah and Israel and to control the surrounding valleys. This is the same land that was conquered by the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Romans, etc.

The region eventually fell under the control of the Ottoman Empire, was then taken by the French and British in the form of UN mandates following World War I. The British promised the indigenous arabic tribes self-rule and didn’t deliver. Eventually they evolved a plan to divide the area up into a Jewish state and an Arabic state; the Jews accepted the UN resolutions, the Arabs didn’t and we essentially arrive at where we are today.

If you look at historical maps of the region (they’re online and freely available) you’ll find that there was NEVER a country called Palestine. There were political boundaries – satrapies, mandates, regions, call them what you will – that had a name based on the Roman designation for the region that was similar – Palestina – but the region referred to as such was the land of the Jews. (Dereivation information at wikipedia)

However, (unfortunately), that particular argument – no matter how true and historically correct – has been lost in the political wranglings that have gone on since at least the first world war.

Second – the various tribes that now refer to themselves as Palestinians are mostly refugees of their own making. When the arabs refused to accept the UN resolutions that would have created an arab state and an Israeli state in the region they did so because the leaders of the Arab League promised them that they would destroy the new state of Israel and that the entire region would be their land. Entreaties from the new Israeli government went unheeded.

Of particular note is that the Mufit of Jerusalem – an arabic political leader with ties to Nazi Germany – attempted to get the Arab League to recognize a separate region, called Palestine, that he would essentially rule: this attempt to create an entirely new country/political entity for personal gain was REJECTED by the the Arab League.

Following the War of Independence – which Israel won – the arabs who had fled the region (rather than remaining as Israeli citizens) had no where to return to.

It should also be noted that under the many plans for two-states in the region that preceded Israeli independence, every single plan gave more land to the arabs than to the jews, the jews accepted every single plan, the arabs rejected every single plan.

Third. Those arab refugees fled to Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran and other surrounding countries where they formed large refugee communities and, rather than moving back to the non-Israeli lands remaining, chose to agitate within those countries. They subsuquently had to be kicked out of Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan following attempts at insurrection and coup.

Four. Whether the refugees have any legitimate claim to lands now within the borders of Israel is essentially moot, since those people have become political fodder for politico-military organizations that have been declared terrorist organizations by the US, many European countries and, in some cases, the UN. We are not dealing with an homogenous displaced people – we are dealing with terrorists who have repeatedly stated their unwillingness to come to any political accomodation in the region. The refugees – victims of their own decisions initially – are now being victimized by radicals who claim to speak for them.

Those terrorist organizations – from those organized by Arafat as the PLO, down to the current Iranian-funded and backed Hamas and Hezbollah, are not interested in any way whatsoever in seeking peace in the region. They have as their creed the destruction of the state of Israel – which is only a small part of their goal of establishing a world-wide Islamic Caliphate.

Five. If you study the history, regardless of any of the specific details, you will note that EVERY SINGLE TIME Israel has agreed to accomodate their demands, rather than waiting for a political process to work itself out, they have once again resorted to violence. When they said they wanted autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza, their capital in East Jerusalem and would work towards creating a two-state solution in the region – they did not mean that receiving such would satisfy them. They meant that this would be only a step towards their ultimate goal of the elimination of the state of Israel.

Which brings us (once again) to where we are essentially today, leaving me only one final point to make.

Israel is a democratic country that enjoys wide personal rights, a free press, elected representatives, open education and all of the other trappings that those of us in the west are used and accustomed to.

This is not true of Hamas. One particular incident bears this out. Israel has been accused of firing tank shells at UN relief workers. The world’s press outlets have taken statements to that effect from Hamas and from the UN (which itself admits that it does not posess the full story) – without corroboration. Israeli sources state that the relief workers were shot, rather than shelled and that those wounded workers are now in Israeli hospitals being treated.

Yet the international press insists on running with the Hamas/UN version of the story – again, without having it confirmed.

It certainly is possible for both sides to be telling stories – but Israel has offered up the location of the people wounded in the incident. It would be a relatively easy task for ‘international reporters’ to visit that hospital and obtain the facts themselves – yet none of them have done so as of this writing.

There is no doubt in my mind that collateral damage is occurring in Gaza – some of it the responsibility of Israel. But the international press seems bent on showing Israeli actions in the worst possible light – even to the point of maintaining uncertainty about a wide-spread story that could be easily resolved.

Read the press coverage that you want to, but make sure to check in with the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz as well (both English language papers) – you just might gain a different perspective on what is going on.

SF content here today? suffice it to say that if the above were the plot of a novel you were reading – you wouldn’t buy it.

Trying To Keep Up

I have to find a mentor. One of these new-era ‘kids’ who seem to be able to manage their time and their output in ways that totally mystify me. I seem to be operating in a serial mode while they’re getting along famously in parallel.

Just to put a fine point on it – I’m STILL trying to find time to get on over to Locus and read Doctorow’s piece that somewhat touches on the subject – and no, I do not have time to read a book on time management.

Therein lies the rub.

Are dashes better than astericks for denoting a change in subject?

John Ottinger has added at least two more blogs to his list and has announced that Diana Pharaoh Francis is putting together a database of SF/F/H book reviewers as a natural outgrowth of the meme.

You can add your information here.

In related meme news, John Anealio is contemplating a reprise of the meme song and contemplating a music video.

I’d be happy to write the shooting script – but of course doing so will entail certain creative changes to the song (not everything translates from one media to the next directly, you know). Something like this:

“Oh The Crotchety Old Fan, The Crotchety Old Fan and

The Crotchety Old Fan and The Crotchety Old Fan,

something, something, something

I’m Grasping For The Wind…”

Three more capsule reviews will be coming shortly.

Charlie Stross is going to be appearing at Pandemonium Books on Tuesday, February 10th, 7 PM, in Caqmbridge, Mass.

I’m currently reading Saturn’s Children for review (Ray Gun Revival) and will be attending this little soiree. I’m seriously thinking of bringing along some restraints and a flogger, but I need to know what size shoe Charlie wears so I can also fetch along the proper size stiletto ballet boots…

I’ve read Heinlein’s Friday numerous times (a novel that SC is an ‘homage/send-up’ of) and am, shall we say, ‘intimately’ familiar with some of the imagery Charlie borrows. I’d venture to guess that unless you are familiar with the subject matter, you’ve missed a large number of the elements in there (not that doing so will affect enjoyment of the book). I’d also venture to guess that Charlie has at least a passing acquaintance with said subject – or at least did a whole heck of a lot of (painful) research…

I just signed up at Authonomy, the social-org/distributed slush pile reading/writing site by HarperCollins. I haven’t posted my minimal 10,000 words of fiction yet but will be doing so.

I’ve gotten a couple of very nice responses to ‘Masker Aid’ (which is one of the things I’ll probably post at the above site) and I absolutely do appreciate those missives, but what would be more instructive would be (tender) criticism of the story.

I find it extremely ironic that one reader noted that it reminded him of the kind of stories he reads in Asimov’s – which is the first publication I submitted it to and the first place that rejected it.

If you do want to read it and tell me how badly it sucks, you can find it at the end of this post. If you insist, you can also tell me how much you liked it.

We’re scheduled for another snow storm today and tomorrow, so soon it will be off to the laundry and the supermarket to lay in survival supplies. I MUST remember to get mayonnaise (Hellmans, of course) as I have an inordinate amount of tuna fish that needs to be turned into salad.

See, these are the kind of distracting, mundane things that keep getting me further and further behind on the list of things that need doing.

Truscifi‘s commentary on “what is or is not scifi” (playing off of Scalzi’s AMC piece this week was picked up by File 770 and Mike offers a very amusing and oft-told tale of Harlan Ellison’s gafiation.

Gary Farber has a VERY long (interesting and entertaining and sad) piece on the soon-to-be-former administration’s use of torture. He reports on a piece by David Cole.

Being one of those kids who was subjected to (at a minimum) annual showings of ‘Night and Fog’ all I can say is that it was totally beyond my ability to comprehend in any way how the same country that liberated the death camps in WWII could sanction torture, rendition and such. (Of course that same country tried to turn a blind eye to the camps for quite a while, but eventually it did do the right thing. Kind of what Gary is hoping for now – that we’ll eventually do the right thing.)

Somewhere along the way our leaders (and much of the citizenry) seems to have lost the idea that the ‘tree of liberty’ must be nourished with the blood of patriots from time to time.

Being free AND being the good guys means that sometimes you’re going to have to take it on the chin. What about ‘not giving into the dark side of the Force’ don’t we understand? I thought Obi Wan made it pretty damned clear to Luke: if you allow yourself to use the tools of the dark side, you BECOME the dark side. You’re not the good guy anymore. At best, you can become a bad guy that redemmed himself – but as we all know from umpteen million stories dating all the way back to Homer, redeemed heros ALWAYS pay a price.

I was very happy to hear President-Elect Obama state, categorically, that the United States will no longer engage in torture and won’t be spying on its own people anymore. I sincerely hope (and do believe at the moment) that he will live up to those promises.

But I did manage to get two COF – related products up on Zazzle.

Zazzle is (IMO) a much better version of Cafe Press than Cafe Press ever was. Last time I checked, the percentages at Zazz were better, the design process was smoother and the range of products was wider. YMMV.

The two products currently up there are a Classic Science Fiction Channel coffee mug, featuring the only half-way decent digital art I’ve ever done (The View From Navarre Station)

the classic science fiction channel mug-p168466659061291638trpx 380

(Text on the mug says “The Classic Science Fiction Channel)

and

a t-shirt.

The shirt’s for folks who go to (SF) cons and can’t find that perfect book or magazine for their favorite author to sign.

autograph shirt-p235558402364926789tdf9 380

These were relatively simple to set up and are relatively simple ‘designs’. I’ve got a few more coming (I’ll be customizing the T for comic, fantasy, anime, gaming & etc. conventions) and I’ve been working on two other, far more complicated shirts that are of an ‘historical’ nature.

They’ll be ready before they’ll be needed, which is the only clue I’m giving away.

Make me happy. Go buy a shirt AND a mug!

Life takes interesting turns. Like this one, for example.

This morning I awoke with a blistering headache and a mood that found me stubbornly fighting it off without the aid of my customary 3 x 500 mg of Tylenol (or generic substitute). The dog was barking skull-splitting hypersonic pleas directly into my left ear (he needed to go out but I knew the snow on the ground would deter him the moment I opened the door) and I was settling into one of those days where I’d be going through the motions but not really enjoying myself all that much when

I paid a visit to my blog stats and found an interesting and unfamiliar referrer. A link to a blog called SharingwithWriters. I always visit the referrers, especially those from writers, publishers, editors and reviewers. (You never know, right?)

I read down through the current post and didn’t find anything even remotely connected to COF. Usually I’m either right in the post or over on the blogroll. I almost put it off to some random linking and then, for some reason, decided to read further.

And discovered that Carolyn Howard-Johnson had passed the Premio Dardis Award on to my webpage/blog.

!

Carolyn is the author of the multi-award winning series of How To Do It Frugally series of books. Her website has been named to the Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites. And she gave ME one of 15 Premio Dardis Awards it was her privilege to pass on.

I still have my headache – but who the hell cares!?! I sure as heck don’t.

As Carolyn notes in her write up, the Premio Dardis is given for –

“The PrĂ©mio Dardos is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing.”

Huh. I wrote something original that’s worthy of recognition for its cultural, ethical, literary or personal value? I hope Carolyn gets in touch so I know what it was that caught her attention.

There’s also a nifty ‘stamp’ that goes along with it. I’m supposed to stick it somewhere on my page so that others can revel in the honor and wonderfulness that is me (or my writing, or something…) – so here that is:

premios dardo 2008 best blog darts thinker bordered

The caption says “Best Blog Darts Thinker”.

Pretty cool, huh? I mean – WAY COOL!. I’ve gotten a few cudos over the years for this and that, but this beats the pants off of being a member of the team that won one of the first ever IICS Golden Disc Awards and thrills me to exactly the same level that being voted a ‘Top 100 Player of All Time’ (for paintball) did.

I think that has something to do with the fact that both are peer awards. For someone who was told by his creative writing professor that I ought to quit the class, well – take THAT! unnamed (no talent) creative writing professor!

My exuberance is aggravating the headache. So I’ll come back down to Earth now and fill you in on the other requirements for this award. After I take that 1500 mg of acetominophen.

Vivian Zabel, publisher, passed the award on to Carolyn, who passed it on to me. Making that statement is one of the requirements, but I’m not doing it just because I’m supposed to. I’m doing it because I’m genuinely thankful to Carloyn – someone who I don’t know and have (to the best of my recollection) never corresponded with.

The other requirement is that I pass the award on to 15 other writers. Carolyn states that the origins of the Premio Dardis are lost in the mists of time, but that its intent is to – “(promote) fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.”

So – once again, thank YOU Carolyn Howard-Johnson and here are my 15 nominees: (in no particular order)

http://theeternalgoldenbraid.blogspot.com/ (Lensman’s Children)

http://www.file770.com

http://entertheoctopus.wordpress.com/

http://www.scalzi.com

http://scifistandpoint.wordpress.com/

http://other-worlds-cafe.com/news/blog

http://writtenweird.blogspot.com/

http://wilwheaton.typepad.com/

http://billwardwriter.com/

http://sf-fantasy-books.blogspot.com/

http://scifisongs.blogspot.com/

http://www.sfsignal.com/

http://www.tor.com/

http://writeblack.com/

http://kevin-standlee.livejournal.com/

The LIST THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED (SMOFs for the uninitiated) has been having a, ummm, lively (yeah, that’s the ticket, lively) discussion of ‘waivers of liability’, privacy rights, ownership and digital recording.

Considering that part of this discussion touches on issues that I am personally (and majorly) concerned with – enough so to have written a story devoted to the subject (one that has so far received two rejection slips) – I’ve decided to make that story available here. It’s called ‘Masker Aid’ and details one person’s solution to the ever-growing invasions of personal privacy. You can find it at the end of this post.

But before you get to that:

Mike Glyer over at File 770 has once again tweaked me, this time suggesting that I am such a traffic-whore that I’ll do anything to increase my hits – including stooping as low as criticising Star Wars on the basis of its lack of science fictionalness.

I’m not that cheap. In fact, I think Star Wars is emminently science fictiony and to suggest otherwise is to deny such things as the appearance in the (septology?) as Asimov’s robots, Herbert’s dunes and sandworms, Piper’s Little Fuzzies, Alex Raymond’s swords&blasters in space, Forbidden Planet’s Krell city, Niven’s and Robinson’s and (?)’s inter-species watering holes, Schomburg’s and DiFate’s and Gaughn’s and Freas’ Astounding Stories spaceship covers, Pournelle’s legions, Star Trek’s genetic supermen, Heinlein’s the-mother-thing (think Yoda) Smith and Hamilton and Brackett’s galactic sweep, Asimov’s world-girdling cities and a host of other author’s and artist’s contributions to the canon since at least the 1930s. Of course, if Mike had challenged me to discuss Star Wars’ lack of originality, flattery of the genre, that would be another thing entirely.

I have not been stingy with my criticism(s) of IO9 in the past. I know that this blog and my website are not anywhere close to the brightest stars in the science-fiction-on-the-web galaxy, but over the past eight months I have managed to get picked up by (on a somewhat regular basis) most of the other blogs/websites that do “burn so brightly” – including BoingBoing, SFSignal, Whatever, File 770 and the aforementioned IO9.

I therefore find it indicative of the mindset(?), culture(?) over at that site that they linked to me on a couple of occassions prior to my criticism, and not once since – despite the fact that they have covered a couple of items that originally appeared here.

I’m not suggesting that they ‘stole’ stories – anything that’s appeared here (other than original content) has appeared in many other locations, either before or after I mentioned them, depending on the breaks. I’m not even suggesting that if I cover something, they MUST mention me in their coverage of that subject.

What I am suggesting is that, like some other websites serving other communities, IO9 seems to think that the world revolves around them and that by turning a blind eye to someone who has been critical of them, they can somehow deny their existence. This is exactly the same thing that a 6 year old does when they close their eyes, stop up their ears and pretend that someone they don’t like isn’t there because they can no longer see or hear them. And about as effective.

Just for giggles, I’m going to try it myself. MMMMMMmmmmmmmHHH! MMMMmmmmmHHHH! Darn. Nope, IO9 is still there.

The internet doesn’t work that way (neither does reality).

Today, Neil Gaiman expressed his own criticism of IO9’s practices. (Yes, it did make me happy to see that I am not alone.)

Neil’s focus was their attempt to create news via internally-generated rumor, while mine has generally focused on their barker-like “look at the freaks geeks!, look at the freaks geeks!” view of the industry.

I’m relatively easy to ignore. I’ll be interested to see if Neil receives the same treatment. For some reason, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Masker Aid

Back in September I changed my host/server arrangement and moved the blog from Word Press hosting to self-hosting on the Rim Worlds website. I did so for a couple of reasons – first, because I was being hosted as a guest and couldn’t get a real good look at my stats and secondly because I wanted greater control over what I could do.

I then started experimenting with affiliate advertising – Adsense, Amazon and Ebay to be specific.

I’ve earned a bit of money with Google, but sadly I’m unable to retrieve those earnings because Google seems to think that it must be illegal to receive mail at a PO Box. I’ve gone round and round and round with them – they’re difficult to talk to, they put as many roadblocks in your way as possible and they seem to (deliberately) misunderstand the nature of your questions or statements.

I’ve given up on them and as far as I’m concerned they can keep the money I earned (something I think was planned on their part anyway).

Ebay hasn’t generated any revenue at all. I’m not sure exactly why – perhaps the fleeting nature of the auctions, perhaps my utilization scheme was flawed, but I’m dropping that as well.

Amazone – same deal as Ebay – but I’m working on a bunch of listmainia lists that might give that effort a boost.

And here’s why. I finally got around to looking at my website’s traffic analysis and stats and I was a bit surprised to say the least. I’m see somewhere between 600 and 800 unique visitors a day, that number is increasing by between 14 and 20 percent per month and my ‘page views’ are up to over 120,000 in just four months.

Now I know that this level of traffic doesn’t hold a candle to portal sites – but I don’t think its all that bad for a site devoted to a very narrow niche – classic science fiction.

So I’ve decided to go back to my original plan of directly soliciting ads from specific companies – companies that sell and or market product that might be of interest to something like 20,000 old and graying science fiction fans.

I’m also flirting with the idea of a tip jar (5 bucks a month from 1% of those visitors would be a nice boost) and/or checking out Project Wonderful, which is an affiliate system, but they seem to have a bit more on the ball than Google does.

In the meantime I’m conducting another experiment; I’ve place an advertisement for two friends who operate small presses on my front page – and I’ve asked them to try and keep an eye on things and see if they get any bumps from my site. I’m asking anyone who does click on those ads to let the publishers know that they are visiting from my site. In a month or so I expect we’ll all have some small idea of how effective an ad on my front page might be.

The two featured companies are Old Earth Books, Mike Walsh Propieter and Creative Guy Publishing, Pete S Allen, Editor. I’ve chosen to feature two offerings from each; all four books have been critically acclaimed and well received and, while they’re probably available elsewhere (like Amazon), I’m sure that everyone would appreciate it if you order them directly from the source.

In the meantime, if you think that it might be worth checking out my site for the placement of some targeted advertising, check out the page for my criteria, requirements and rates and/or get in touch.