I have altered the Star Wars saga…

Posted on: August 31st, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

…pray that I don’t alter it any further.

With every new addition George Lucas keeps making tweaks to the Star Wars movies. From the classic “Han shot first” scene and adding Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett in Episode IV, through to his most recent tweaks in the new blu-ray release due to be released September 16th. His latest Star Wars changes were to replace the Yoda puppet with CGI in Episode I to better match the CGI Yoda in Episodes II and III. He also added CGI work to make the Ewoks blink. And then there’s this wonderful addition:

I concur: NOOOOOOO!

Please George, leave it alone. Leave it alone! Leave it alone! Leave it alone! Leave it alone! Leave it alone! Leave it alone!

Containment convention open pimp thread

Posted on: August 30th, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

I’ve repaired some of the twitter scripts, so, this is an invitation for all geek (science fiction, fantasy, horror, anime,steampunk, etc.) conventions to pimp themselves in this thread (and submit their info on Containment).

Leave a comment here that tells me why your con is special. Feel free to make it as long as you like, but if your comment contains multiple links then it’s likely to go into moderation (so please be patient while it’s in the queue).

Conventions who post a comment under 140 characters in length will have their pimps tweeted to the @confinder timeline for all 733+ followers to see (don’t forget to include your twitter account and the #pimpage hashtag in the comment). For example:

@Yourcon is the largest steampunk con in Eastern Gwandanaland, with extra special guest: Willie Wonka #pimpage

All right, now have at it!

Looking for conventions

Posted on: August 20th, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

Some of you know that one of the websites that I run is Containment (containment.greententacles.com). At the moment I need people to submit conventions to the site. If you know of a convention intimately enough, or can prod the organizers into doing it, please add your favorite conventions to the site on the consubmit page.

Thaumatrope payments sent

Posted on: August 14th, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

Let me just start by saying that I’m very embarrassed that it took me this long to do this: I’ve sent out every outstanding payment request that I had in my e-mail inbox for Thaumatrope. I’m sorry that it has taken me this long. I hope that I can be forgiven for making the writers wait. I don’t have any excuse, but I can try to do better in the future. I hope that the people who don’t accept my apology, will at least accept my money.

If anyone cares to chastise me about how long I’ve taken to do this, please feel free to do it in the comments. I won’t harbor any ill will towards any writer who feels the need to vent at me. I deserve it.

If you requested a payment and haven’t received it, then I haven’t received the request: please contact me and I’ll settle my debt to you.

The theory for this payment system was that, rather than being sent several payments of $1.20 by Paypal, the writer would be able to allow the payments accrue to a threshold that they felt comfortable with before submitting a payment request. I was then able to process payments ranging from $1.20 to $12.00 (or more, as needed). It saved time, but it did cause a little confusion. In the future I would make sure to add more information about this payment style.

I still have more work to do to close up Thaumatrope (and other markets) but the payments are my biggest outstanding obligation, maybe not in terms of currency, but in terms of goodwill.

Wall Street Journal Interview

Posted on: August 8th, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

I was interviewed by Don Steinberg for an article about Cowboys and Aliens that appeared on The Wall Street Journal: Hollywood Frontiers: Outer Space and the Wild West. He tracked me down from Space Westerns.com and my article on Strange Horizons: The Emancipation of Bat Durston. Here’s the relevant part of the article that was paraphrased from our interview:

“Avatar,” set on a distant moon in 2154, isn’t obviously a Western—but hold on, says Nathan Lilly, who runs SpaceWesterns.com, a website dedicated to the subgenre. The Na’vi tribe are classic movie Indians. They may be 10 feet tall and blue, but they shoot arrows, wear their long black hair in ponytails and live in harmony with the land. The greedy white mercenaries intent on snatching the land’s precious minerals are familiar characters, as is the one renegade who falls in star-crossed love with a native woman. In “Avatar,” it’s Marine Jake Sully, who inhabits a lab-made body that resembles the natives, under orders to embed with them and gather intelligence. He romances the lovely Neytiri, and as the invading soldiers try to destroy the tribe’s sacred tree and mine the valuable ore beneath it, Sully leads the resistance, with help from an alliance of clans from around the planet.

Falling for the squaw is very “Pocahontas” (1995) and very “Dances With Wolves” (1990), but there are earlier precedents. In “Broken Arrow” (1950) Jimmy Stewart is a former Union Army soldier who befriends Cochise in 1870 to learn Apache ways and stop their attacks. He marries an Apache girl and is seen as a traitor. In “They Died With Their Boots On” (1941), Errol Flynn is General George Custer, leading the 7th Cavalry. Pioneers pushing west want every scrap of Indian land. Anthony Quinn, as Sioux chief Crazy Horse, says his people will give up everything except the sacred Black Hills, where “the spirits of our fathers dwell,” warning that if those hills are infiltrated, all the tribes will unite and fight back. Just as in “Avatar,” greedy bureaucrats direct soldiers to invade the sacred territory, tribes unite, and we know what happened to Custer.

We did speak more about Firefly, Star Trek, Star Wars, and Westerns in general, but it seems to have overlapped with other interviews where it may have been more relevant to quote or paraphrase someone else.

What I learned from Thaumatrope

Posted on: August 4th, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

Brevity is the soul of wit.

I know what I’m gonna do today

Posted on: June 16th, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

If you weren’t already aware of it, go watch Phineas & Ferb. I highly recommend it.

Here’s the intro, which sums up the show better than I can:

It’s smart, funny, witty, subversive (but not in a crass or mean-spirited way) and speaks to my inner geek. It also has great musical numbers:

Yesterday was the last day of school for my children; Today their summer vacation begins. Summer is a great time to be a kid and you shouldn’t waste any of it.

I know what I’m gonna do today.

Warrior Dash PA, 2011

Posted on: June 14th, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

This weekend I ran the Warrior Dash in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, on the Skirmish paintball fields. Warrior Dash is a 3½-mile run with a dozen obstacles (from mud pits to rope walls) placed along the route.

It was a dark, cloudy day, made even more so by the fact that a cloud bank covered the field by the time that my wave began at 3:30. Here’s a video of my run, though I imagine it’s only of interest of people who want to run the Warrior Dash.

[music for the video by Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band]

I was bib #33968, I came in 802nd place (out of 8,281 runners for the day), and took 105th place for my age group (out of 743 runners in the 35-39 male age group). My final race time was 40:33.80, which was an 11:35/mile pace, a little less than 4 minutes slower than the first place finish which paced 7:38/mile.

It was a great run, and a great time. I’ll likely do it again next year, but for now: I must get my head back into web development.

What killed Everyday Weirdness?

Posted on: June 10th, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

Everyday Weirdness languished then suffered a brief return from the dead in September 2010, before finally becoming inactive again in December 2010. What finally killed it, like Thaumatrope, was time and money.

In retrospect, again like Thaumatrope, I should have pulled the plug, tied up loose ends, and made changes to the website to reflect the fact long before now.

Like Thaumatrope, Everyday Weirdness may return in the future—my core focus at the moment, after paying outstanding debts, is to relaunch Space Westerns. Any other fiction market will have to wait until I’ve accomplished that.

What killed Thaumatrope?

Posted on: June 9th, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

This has been a hard post for me to write… All fiction markets die; every last one. It saddens me to (officially) announce the closure of what was the first Twitter fiction magazine. I’d like to thank all of the contributors who submitted to the market while it was open. It was fun while it lasted.

So what caused the demise of Thaumatrope?

  • Twitter API: OAuth
  • Time
  • Payments

I was feebly plugging along when Twitter changed their API, and I wasn’t able to make the site compatible with those changes. In order to truly relaunch the magazine I have to go back and completely rewrite the backend of the website (which included all of the code to receive submissions and send acceptances/rejections) to work with OAuth. Which leads to the second Thaumatrope killer: Time.

The time it takes to edit stories that are 140 characters long is minuscule. Not only does it just take about 5 seconds to know if your going to accept the story, it only takes 5 seconds to read the entire story: beginning, middle, and end. Unfortunately, it takes much more time to run the magazine (think marketing, advertising, development, and for the truly courageous, commerce) than what I was able to provide. Rewriting the back-end to really work with OAuth, and/or so that volunteers might be able to manage much of it in my stead, is time that I don’t have.

Which leads to the final reason that Thaumatrope closed: I got behind (WAY behind… embarrassingly behind) in my payments to authors. It reached the stage that I didn’t see the point in going further into the hole. My current goal is to address all outstanding payments before I launch (or re-launch) any additional fiction markets.

In retrospect, I should have pulled the plug and made changes to the website to reflect the fact long before now, but I didn’t have the time. As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t even really have the time to read and respond to e-mail, among a host of other things I didn’t have the time for. As I wind down my fitness regimen and get used to my schedule working on the house I’m finding more time to get back online and tie up loose ends. At some point Thaumatrope is likely to relaunch, and when it does you’ll hear it here first.