Monday, January 26, 2009

Wordpress Debugging

I have been working on a plugin for Jupiter Three that uses shortcodes to create a custom Amazon post featuring a single Book based on ASIN. What I have run into is issues with debugging - how do I create simple debug output so I can see if my code is running correctly? I get errors from Mysql using wpdb but not clear on what the errors are.

The interesting thing about the DB errors is that my inserts still go in, but a drop table won't drop.

I have posts in the forums. Hope to hear something soon. I am stuck.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What is a Space Opera?

I ask because I am reading Alastair Reynolds' 2000 novel Revelation Space, and that is how it is being touted.

Apparently that label was not originally a positive one. Wikipedia states that it was originally applied to "the hacky, grinding, stinking, outworn space-ship yarn, or world-saving [story]". It is more generally applied to stories where "settings, characters, battles, powers, and themes tend to be very large-scale".

OK, I assume the second is the reason it is applied to Revelation Space. It's taking me some time to read it, and it was a little slow to get into, but now that I am, I want to see what happens. I will be reviewing it at when I finish it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

What is Hard Sci-Fi?

When I started Jupiter Three, I had the misunderstanding that I was going to write "hard" sci-fi. Wikipedia qualifies Hard Science Fiction as "science fiction characterized by an emphasis on scientific or technical detail, or on scientific accuracy, or on both". Over at the SciFi channels web site, they outline minimum requirements for Hard Sci Fi:
  • the science in the story is accurate to what is known of science today, and
  • (real-world) science or engineering is central to the plot of the story
They at least allow that the "hardness" of sci fi is a spectrum

Fair enough. So since my background in science is not strong enough to produce real hard sci fi, just a few sprinkling elements, I have to loosen up. I want to explore social issues in the context of the future, so that is what I will do.

I will say this-- for a time at least I am burnt out on fantasy, urban or otherwise. I still plan on read Jim Butcher's Dresden series (Turn Coat comes out in April 2009), and I will probably get the next Kat Richardson Greywalker novel in August, but for a while at least I want to focus on Nebula and Hugo nominees over the past 10 years. For 2009 I will be skipping the sword and the fang. Time to play catchup!

In the mean time, I did find a Hard Sci Fi WebRing, though it is small; and one that focuses on Science Fiction Book Reviews, though they don't disclude fantasy.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Blogging isn't easy!

I have learned a few things while trying to maintain a blog over at

  • Logging regularly is a lot of work! Don't get me wrong, I love it. But because of the serial nature of the blog, I am committed to a schedule, all be it a wide one.
  • There is an art to writing book reviews, and I am not an artist. A TODO for 2009 is to learn the art.
  • An ongoing fiction log really limits your re-write options! If I stay a few days ahead, I can get in at least one re-write, but I can't change direction as freely as writing a novel.

I currently have two readers. That's one more than my kid thought I would get. The fun part for me is that they seem to care what I do with the character. "Derick is going to end up with that girl right?" I've even gotten plot and technology suggestions.

Which presents a challenge-- staying true to my own vision for the characters despite what my fan wishes would happen. It would be too predictable otherwise, right? **grin** At the same time I don't want to NOT do something just becuase my fan wants it too.

These are the kind of problems I like!