Afterthought: An exhaustive Second Life weekend

Toward the end of the year I usually invite friends and fellow writers to my home for a pre-Christmas celebration. This time I tried something new and extended our gathering last Saturday into a hybrid world party. While tending to my guests in real life, I also moderated the official opening of my two new projects, the World Culture Hub and The Turing Galaxy, in the 3d Internet world of Second Life. I hope it has been an interesting experience for both sides. While the guests gathered around my computer screen could follow the guided tour, the exhibitions and the readings by Nova authors Marcus Hammerschmitt and Guido Seifert, the visitors inworld may not just have heard my comments but some wicked remarks in the background.

Burkhard Tom-Bubb, the fastest Second Life blogger known to mankind, has again been the first to put a report on the event with an extensive picture gallery online. Another report with a lot of pictures can be found at Hydorgol’s website.

The Second Life weekend wasn’t yet over for me with that. On Sunday night I took part in a scenic reading of Thorsten Küper’s story “Der Hummer vor den Toren”, recently published in the anthology Tiefraumphasen (Begedia). Set designer Barlok Barbosa created several settings of the story exclusively for the reading. Four of Thorsten’s aka Kueperpunk Korhonen’s fellow writers took speaking parts of some of the story’s characters. It was an interesting and, as I hope, trend-setting experiment that worked remarkably well (even I didn’t manage to miss my entry). I guess we all agree that especially Bernhard Giersche’s performance as the dying corporate big shot Cronstetten was worth listening.

Opening of The World Culture Hub and The Turing Galaxy

I have just set up a new static page about my two new projects in Second Life, the World Culture Hub and The Turing Galaxy (see main menu on the right). Both projects will be officially opened on Saturday, December 13th. The following events are planed:

10:00 SLT / 19:00 CET
Introduction & a guided tour of the World Culture Hub
Entry Hall, World Culture Hub

10:30 SLT / 19:30 CET
Harter Fall – Images and objects
Marcus Hammerschmitt – Photographies
Christian Günther – Science fiction illustration
Sky Center, The Turing Galaxy

11:30 SLT / 20:30 CET
Marcus Hammerschmitt – Guido Seifert
Science fiction reaging (German)
Seminar room, The Turing Galaxy

2:00 SLT / 23:00 CET
Michael K. Iwoleit: Electronic ambient music, live
Main stage, World Culture Hub

3:00 SLT / 0:00 CET
Aftershow party
Club, World Culture Hub


A new home for Nova

It’s no secret that my co-editor Olaf G. Hilscher‘s and my attempt to establish Nova – one of the leading German science fiction magazines, now in its 11th year – on a wider market via a professional magazine distributor have failed due to a lack of sales (and maybe due to failures of our distributor that I will not discuss here). The attempt resulted in major financial losses and we discussed a number of ways to get the magazine going again. Olaf quickly managed to make a deal with Jürgen Eglseer and his Amrun Verlag. After he already stepped in to allow for the publication of Nova 22,  Jürgen’s small publishing house will now provide a permanent new home for Nova. Jürgen will care for production and distribution while Olaf and me are free to concentrate fully on the editorial work. The only drawback of this arrangement is that, for the time being, we can only publish one issue a year. We hope we can switch back to two annual issues when enough copies are sold.

We strive to publish the next Nova issue early to mid February. Nova 23 will be a theme issue about the future of music, introduced by Franz Rottensteiner and including new stories by Marcus Hammerschmit, Gabriele Behrend, Marc Späni, Karsten Kruschel, Norbert Stöbe, Michael Marrak and Thomas Sieber, a guest story by Stephen Katowych (USA) and an essay about science fiction and music by music ethnologist Martina Claus-Bachmann, furthermore a classic reprint by Thomas Ziegler aka Rainer Zubeil (one of the greatest talents of German science fiction who died tragically young with just 48 years in 2004).  Starting with this issue, Nova will be extended from 180 to 200 pages.

Introduction to anthology “Tiefraumphasen”

André Skora, Armin Rößler and my former co-editor Frank Hebben recently edited a new original anthology with stories by established and up-and-coming German science fiction writers. The book Tiefraumphasen, published by Begedia Verlag, features cyberpunk stories set in space by Thorsten Küper, Christian Günther, Karsten Kruschel, Sven Klöpping, Niklas Peinecke and others.

Busy with two novels, I couldn’t make it in time to contribute a story myself but I wrote a short introduction about the tradition of dark and dirty future scenarios, starting with Ridley Scotts movie Alien (1979) and infusing Cyberpunk’s bleakness with the even more profound existential calamities of a rundown humanity, confronted with the coldness and emptiness of space that failed to realize the Utopian hopes of classical science fiction.

Cameo appearance in crime novel

Blitz Verlag recently published my fellow writer Olaf Kemmler’s novel Die Stimme einer Toten, an example of the subgenre of regional crime novels that has become quite popular in Germany. One of the closing chapters of Olaf’s book – set in the Bergische Land, the hilly area around Wuppertal, Solingen and Remscheid – leads its female protagonist, in search of her stepsister’s murderer, to a remarkable encounter with a number of science fiction writers, namely my longtime co-editor Ronald M. Hahn, Horst Pukallus and me. The dialogue, with me leading, is not completely true-to-life but includes some silly stuff I’ve actually said some time (and I’m not even ashamed of it). Olaf’s novel, by the way, is an entertaining little murder mystery with lots of local color and some fresh ideas.

On Karl Hofer’s painting “Laokoon”

I know, I know. Quite a while ago since the last updates. I’m about to catch up now. Here’s the first of some news:

Earlier the year I have been approached by the Museum für Neue Kunst (Museum for New Art) in Freiburg to contribute a text to the museum’s 30 years anniversary. A number of artists, writers, musicians, choreographers and theorists have been invited to comment on major artworks in the museum’s collection, among them paintings by August Macke, Oskar Kokoschka, Otto Dix and Meret Oppenheim. I’ve been invited to contribute a science fiction story inspired by Karl Hofer’s painting Laokoon from 1940. Hofer (1878-1955) – who started his career in the early 20th century, was at the peak of his prominence between the World Wars and, after being condemned by the Nazis, had some influence on the cultural politics of early postwar Germany – is generally considered an expressionist but had actually been an outsider who failed to identify with any of the artistic movements of his time.

I’ve just settled with curatorial assistant Jennifer Smailes on a final version of my text that will be a permanent part of the museum’s collection of work interpretations. In my story a future society devoid of own inspiration has set out to revive creative minds of the past by means of computer emulations, Karl Hofer among them.

Works in progress

There have been no updates on my homepage for some months. In case that anybody has missed me, let me assure you that the reason was not a lack of interest in continuing this page nor an extended springtime lethargy. The reason is instead, I hope, a pleasant one for my readers. 2014 may well turn out, despite some health problems, to be the most prolific year in my career so far. No less than three new books are in the making, due to be published this or next year. Der Moloch, a novel length version of my award winning novella of the same title from 2007, that I write for Fabylon Verlag, has grown to about 250 manuscript pages and as for the finishing chapters the horizon is in sight. It’s the same with In situ, initially planed as a novella but now grown into an almost full-scale novel, to be published in my incredibly patient editor Harald Giersche’s small print press Begedia Verlag. I started with the book somewhat close to the end of the last ice age and Harald was so kind to stay with me through all obstacles and delays to finally see this baby in print, which has come close to realization now. There’s also an interested publisher for a collection of my literary essays about major short story writers in science fiction and beyond.