Ben Parzybok

filibuster!

March 18, 2014
by Benjamin Parzybok
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What if I believe in this, just because it’s beautiful

“Let us hope it’s not a trick. I always leave with this feeling I am tricked. What if I believe in this, just because it’s beautiful. What if — yes.”  


—  Stanford professor Andrei Linde, on the living with the doubt about his Inflationary Universe Theory, which was proved yesterday.


I love this video. Also of note is that Andrei Linde’s wife, Renata Kallosh, is also a well-known theoretical physicist who has made significant contributions to string theory. Power couple!



March 5, 2014
by Benjamin Parzybok
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Wherein I serve justice

Otherwise known as the opportunity to read uninterrupted for two days.

Really though, I’ve always wanted jury duty and it has seemed some unfair lottery that 2+ decades have gone by since I became the legal age to be an arbiter and haven’t been called once. Therefore, I am taking the job very seriously and have arrived in a cape, and the hat with the weighty scale of justice affixed to the top, for good measure.

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January 31, 2014
by Benjamin Parzybok
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The Long Hidden

I’m really excited to have a short story in the anthology The Long Hidden, as I was incredibly taken with the idea the moment they announced their very successful Kickstarter. Billed as Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, the book is a genre-bending romp through time, looking into corners that ‘official history’ has neglected.

From GoodReads:

“1514 Hungary, peasants who rose up against the nobility rise again – from the grave. In 1633 Al-Shouf, a mother keeps demons at bay with the combined power of grief and music. In 1775 Paris, as social tensions come to a boil, a courtesan tries to save the woman she loves. In 1838 Georgia, a pregnant woman’s desperate escape from slavery comes with a terrible price. In 1900 Ilocos Norte, a forest spirit helps a young girl defend her land from American occupiers.

These gripping stories have been passed down through the generations, hidden between the lines of journal entries and love letters. Now 27 of today’s finest authors – including Tananarive Due, Sofia Samatar, Ken Liu, Victor LaValle, Nnedi Okorafor, and Sabrina Vourvoulias – reveal the people whose lives have been pushed to the margins of history.”

That first story mentioned is mine (called ‘Colts’).

They’re having a giveaway for the book on Good Reads now, so grab your copy while there’s still some left!

Here’s the lovely cover:LH-cover-onlytitleandeditors-1024x720

January 23, 2014
by Benjamin Parzybok
1 Comment

Drought Monitor

Love this tool, put out by the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Currently Oregon is listed as undergoing a Severe Drought — which is third, in a drought severity scale which goes to five.

  • Abnormally Dry
  • Moderate Drought
  • Severe Drought
  • Extreme Drought
  • Exceptional Drought

I feel like they need to work on the wording of that last one, which sounds slightly laudatory. Hey, you’re exceptional! A few parts of Nevada and the midwest are exceptional.

US West Drought Conditions as of January 21, 2014

 

January 15, 2014
by Benjamin Parzybok
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The apocalypse you don’t notice until you’re halfway through

I only learned last week that California is undergoing an epic drought of historic proportions. As a result they’re also under alert for extreme fire danger.

I joked with a friend that you never hear about droughts until they hit their 3rd and 4th years, after you’ve squandered years of planning and efficiency. What other disaster are you not aware of until you’ve been in it for a while?

That first year it’s: What a dry summer!

Then: Bad skiing this year, there’s no snow pack!

And by the time you’ve found that, for example, you’ve just experienced the driest year in recorded history (as California just did), you’re kicking yourself for not upping your efficiency and planning things out a bit better when it all started. Instead, governor’s are doing a politician’s rain dance: crossing their fingers, doing a lot of wishing, and saying “Governors can’t make it rain,” as governor Tom Brown felt important to point out last week.

“If we do manage to get a few decent storms, we could definitely get enough water to stave off the worst consequences of a really extreme water shortage,” he said. “But if we don’t, we’ve essentially lost the whole water year.”

- Daniel Swain of Stanford University who coined the term “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” on his blog, weatherwest.com.

 

What’s making the drought happen?

Meteorologists have fixed their attention on the scientific phenomenon they say is to blame for the emerging drought: a vast zone of high pressure in the atmosphere off the West Coast, nearly four miles high and 2,000 miles long, so stubborn that one researcher has dubbed it the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge.” California Drought, What’s Causing It? San Jose Mercury News

 

DROUGHT ridge 011414

 

“We’ve had a few weather systems come through,” said Leslie Wanek, a meteorologist in Salt Lake City at the regional headquarters of the National Weather Service. “But it just keeps rebuilding there. It’s kind of a mystery about why. Why is the global atmospheric pattern stuck like this?”

A high pressure ridge, which diverts all wet weather north. It hasn’t moved for 13 months.

Some are surely wondering: Is this crisis the new normal? And when do you stop looking for a change in the weather, and start planning based on your current circumstances? And what apocalypse is already half over that we haven’t noticed yet?

 

*Note: My book Sherwood Nation, about a big drought, comes out this year. So I’ll occasionally post something up about drought issues, government hacking, enclaves, Robin Hood, and etc..

December 27, 2013
by Benjamin Parzybok
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Written in 2013

I thought I’d end 2013 with a quick look at the year’s progress, from a production standpoint.

I  worked on a lot of projects. Though I’d have more ‘completed’ work if I were more focussed,  I don’t regret having been a bit more scattershot. Having a bunch of projects means when I get up early to write, there’s always something I’m excited to work on. Sometimes starting from scratch on something else is a writer’s block killer. The word counts below are for the most part ‘finished’ word counts (but really,  a work is never finished until it’s mass-etched on a book’s pages).

Written in 2013

Short Stories

8,682 – The Poet Retreats (submission in progress)

4,156 – The Colts (to be published in The Long Hidden in 2014)

6,171 – From the Sky (submission in progress)

6,462 – story about Queen Dowager Isabella Jagiellon, unfinished, abandoned (haven’t decided whether I’ll pick this back up)

2,463 – story about a…uh… bus ride, presently in-progress !

 

Novels:

~30,000 – Sherwood Nation ( rough count, since this went through a large condensing process along with a lot of new threads– current word count of the book is 159,161). To be published in 2014!

22,703 – The Voyage, co-written with David Naimon

22,723 – A futuristic book about dump-dwellers

Poems:

Weird! I wrote four poems in 2013 (something I haven’t done for a decade). That said, they’re all candidates to be inserted in the last book listed above, written by one of the characters therein.

Total word count: 103,360

~3.5 short stories, one completed novel, two novels in-progress.

I’m pretty happy with progress this year. I’d be totally content if this time next year I had the same tallies.

My goal is to publish a book every three years or so. By the time Sherwood Nation comes out, it’ll be six years between books. There were a lot of reasons for that absence (children, starting companies, the size of S.N.), but with the amount of work in the hopper at the moment, I can’t imagine a lapse between books that long again. See you in 2014, yo.