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Title:the anthony dobranski blog | March 2014 – the Cold War returns, hot
Description:March 2014 - the Cold War returns, hot
the anthony dobranski blog | March 2014 #8211; the Cold War returns, hot
HomeAbout meAbout this siteThe Demon in Business Class, a novelExcerpt (from Chapters 1 and 2)
the anthony dobranski blog
March 2014 #8211; the Cold War returns, hot
March 3, 2014 by Anthony Dobranski Leave a comment
Russia, a cautionary tale
A short note, for those who read my last post: I made my goal, reducing my novel 10.2% down to 124,400 words. Not merely a slimming #8212; at least ten passages, or one every 15,000 words, needed a complete rewrite just to make sense, and in some cases had to grow. It was a grueling process, and I was exhausted for several days after. But it #8217;s done.
Russia haunts my novel. I say haunts because I only gave it a short nod, but it wound up reappearing, unintentionally but naturally, in surprising ways.
My earliest inspiration, my reassurance that I could use fantasy to describe the heart of a real people, was Mikhail Bulgakov #8217;s The Master and Margarita, a satiric romp in which the Devil holds a grand ball in the heart of an atheistic society. Now it is viewed by those who lived under communism as a true document, a history of the soul #8217;s sadness in those times. If only I could find a way to tell my times through that same lens, I thought, and my story was born.
I only meant to use Russia in my novel as a light on my character Gabriel #8212; on his rigidity, his desire for order and clarity, his deep angry passion; his refusal to drink alcohol, forbidding himself the only Serenity Prayer that Russians allow; that Gabriel learned Russian at birth, educated by Cold Warriors for the world they expected to continue until Armageddon #8212; until the Wall fell, making Gabriel and his Russian know-how into a thirteen-year-old buggy-whip.
But Russia kept returning, in scenes comic and topical. Of course an East German of Gabriel #8217;s generation would speak better Russian than English, allowing a secret language to the security guards of Eurocentric technocracy. Of course new Silovik money would seek the status markers of golfing and Scotch whisky. But why my immortal smoked Russian cigarettes, why a Haitian loa told a Pushkin joke, why Gabriel #8217;s mother found happiness through a different Pushkin joke #8212; ask my muse. I can see the connections in retrospect, and credit my unconscious with wisdom. But maybe in the great Immateria where stories are born,聽Russia bullied my muse, as if offended by (or sniffing opportunity in) my casual usage. So you want a taste? Russia said menacingly.聽That makes it my pie.
I think it #8217;s saying the same to the whole world right now.聽 Continue reading rarr;
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Categories: essay, fiction, novel, politics, Uncategorized | Tags: bulgakov, cold war, crimea, fantasy, geopolitics, pushkin, Russia, soviet union, the master and margarita, ukraine | Permalink.
January 31, 2014 by Anthony Dobranski 1 Comment
More Edits
The heck with this, I know #8212; but I am editing the book again.
I thought I was done, or done for now. At 138K a little big but, you know, big-boned. It was fine. I could write new stories now, send out queries, sure that some kind agent would understand me.
A major contest starting in three weeks has a limit of 125K. I asked my wife and my writing group, and most everyone thought it was worth it to try to reach the goal, contest or no. They are right, of course. But it is an aggressive deadline.
To look fresh at the material, I chopped the file into chunks around 3500 words long. Continue reading rarr;
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Categories: essay, novel | Tags: contest, editing, length, word count | Permalink.
January 21, 2014 by Anthony Dobranski Leave a comment
Two Riffs on Edward Snowden
1) The Great Success of #8220;Operation Snowden #8221;
Three months ago, the Washington Post #8217;s alpha-wonk Ezra Klein noted the double-think in Washington, that we could obviously create a vast enterprise to monitor all human information (using closed-source tools), but obviously the effort to provide healthcare to all was inevitably doomed by the same contracting procedures.
Of course, those in endless opposition to Obamacare are less likely to fuss over the NSA #8217;s work (pace Rand Paul, and assuming they even see the true costs of the latter), and when Klein wrote, people hadn #8217;t yet counted on the NSA hollowing out encryption standards from the inside. Nonetheless:
#8230;. it #8217;s hard to believe that [the] technological incompetence [of] and [the] technological omniscience of PRISM can both exist, exactly as currently understood, in the same institution.
Perhaps Klein was in too much of a rush to get to the obvious answer (certainly the bracketed text I had to add points to this #8211; in case they fix it, here #8217;s a screen shot).
But you can see it, can #8217;t you? Say it with me: The operative known as #8220;Edward Snowden #8221; is the NSA #8217;s greatest operation Continue reading rarr;
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Categories: essay, fiction, politics | Tags: culture, edward snowden, fiction, nsa, panopticon, paranoid, politics, politics washington, satire, scam | Permalink.
November 17, 2013 by Anthony Dobranski 1 Comment
Amish barn poo and the undoing of damage
I am loath to question scientists, who are vastly more informed than I am about their field of study. But even the smart can be unwise.
A recent New York Times opinion essay, breathlessly titled 鈥淎 Cure for the Allergy Epidemic,鈥 described a search for allergy cures in the dust and offal in Amish farms.
The core idea, known commonly as the hygiene hypothesis, suggests modern cleanliness has so reduced our exposure to mild diseases and parasites, that our immune systems have grown overactive and under-regulated. Amish children, exposed to the stimuli of farm and field, have much lower rates of allergic sensitivity. If we can find the factors behind the difference, we can stop allergies before they start.
This isn鈥檛 quackery. Serious science based on these ideas has already recast our understanding of autoimmune diseases like MS and lupus. Still, no direct mechanism for what might change our allergic sensitivity is known. It is finally an assumption, not a theory, that we are missing a readily-accessible rural lack.
One should question whether the desire for a quick, reproducible, lucrative solution colors the theorizing of our scientists. Continue reading rarr;
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Categories: essay | Tags: allergies, Amish, food, food industry, Jeff Ford, pharmaceutical, processed food, science | Permalink.
October 23, 2013 by Anthony Dobranski Leave a comment
The Autumn 2013 Plan
Speaking strictly commercially, I did everything wrong with my writing. I don #8217;t have an identifiable genre or sub-genre. It #8217;s a literary noir-styled fantasy thriller romance and an allegory about globalization and growing up. There #8217;s no shelf for that. Crossing genres and styles is gaining popularity, but it #8217;s still a hard sell to make cold.
Perhaps I could have written odd short stories and gained a following, but my novel had too strong a pull. And of course I had to write it five times over. And it #8217;s still a big book.
So. There it is. Nothing to do about it now but change course.聽 Continue reading rarr;
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Categories: fiction, novel, Uncategorized | Tags: capclave, f amp;sf, fantasy, publishing, sci-fi, Science Fiction, sf, sff, short story, writing | Permalink.
October 10, 2013 by Anthony Dobranski 9 Comments
Science fiction as time travel
I grew up on a solid diet of science fiction, and as a young man in the 1970s and 1980s I had a wide range of style to choose from #8212; New Wave, Old Guard, the Cyberpunks. To read them all at once was like the old Evolution of Man posters, the history of the future all in view.
Like the time-traveler who uses knowledge of the future to succeed, I became a technology early-adopter by reading science-fiction.聽When I saw it happening for real in the 1980s, as limited and clunky as it was, I already knew what it was going to be. Twenty years ago I even lucked into a job in the field, first learning then explaining to others just what #8220;online #8221; was. That job is done.
I am running out of futures.
Continue reading rarr;
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Categories: essay | Tags: dot-com, f amp;sf, Frederik Pohl, future, futurism, futurist, sci-fi, Science Fiction, sf, technology, Ubuntu, William Gibson | Permalink.
October 1, 2013 by Anthony Dobranski Leave a comment
Shutdown blues 2013 in the fissiparous USA
Two years ago I was in a tizzy about the political battles that risked our financial system. Now I am blas茅. The government shutdown is a great mistake, an injustice to the needy and a body-blow to our feeble economy. It was alas inevitable. One group is intent on demonstrating its faith in a strong set of beliefs. Zealots don #8217;t stop until they #8217;re broken.
The shutdown will end when it hurts political donors. I am unconvinced that it will solve anything. Zealots don #8217;t stop. The Roman politician Cato the Elder signed every document #8216;Carthage must be destroyed. #8217; Stay on message for decades, you can get your way.
Things can change fast. The Soviet Union dissolved peacefully in three years. Why couldn #8217;t America dissolve?
And as peacefully as the Soviets did, resentments and mistrust notwithstanding. Share certain operations #8211; roads, ports, armies and navies. The like-minded regions need not be contiguous. If during nuclear tension we could run West Berlin, we can master rights-of-way between red or blue zones.
This is brainstorming like for a fictional setting, not reasoned analysis with data. But sometimes the novelists get one right too.
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Categories: politics | Tags: government shutdown, secession, shutdown, worldbuilding | Permalink.
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