In episode 206 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester welcomes Mary Robinette Kowal, John Joseph Adams, Matt Forbeck and Tobias Buckell to talk about kickstarters in general and the new Help Fund My Robot Army: an anthology of improbable, futuristic, magical & alternate-world crowdfunding projects.

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SF Signal welcomes Bradley P. Beaulieu and Matt Forbeck as they discuss their respective experiences with crowdfunding through Kickstarter…

Impressions of Kickstarter after Launch

Brad: I’ve just launched my first Kickstarter, and one of the first things I’ve noticed (only a few days in as I write this) is that it brings the author, or any Kickstarter team, much closer to the consumer than ever before, even more than I thought it was going to. Not only is the consumer interacting directly with author by pre-ordering their products, the author is almost by necessity interacting with the consumer. I say “almost” because technically speaking, the Kickstarter owner need not interact with their backers, but boy are you missing out on an opportunity if you don’t.

First of all, your backers have a lot to say. They can add comments to the Kickstarter itself or to the updates that you occasionally add. They give encouragement on stretch goals and even offer up ideas for new ones, especially if you ask. Furthermore, interacting with the people who are buying what you’re selling is immensely gratifying. Having the chance to talk to those who are already champions of your work, or those who might be, is a great way to explore and benefit from the human aspects of Kickstarter. Writing is a lonely business indeed, and the chance to have a high-traffic virtual store for a month or so is an exciting and heartwarming experience.

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MIND MELD: Holding out for a Hero

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

On SF Signal Mind Melds, we’ve discussed Anti-Heroes, Villains, and
Sidekicks. It’s been a while since we tackled straight up heroes.So, this week we asked about heroes:

What makes a hero (or heroine) a hero instead of merely a protagonist? Is the idea of a straight up hero old fashioned or out of date in this day and age?

This is what they had to say…

Emma Newman
Emma lives in Somerset, England and drinks far too much tea. She writes dark short stories, post-apocalyptic and urban fantasy novels and records audiobooks in all genres. Her debut short-story collection From Dark Places was published in 2011 and 20 Years Later, her debut post-apocalyptic novel for young adults, was released early 2012. The first book of Emma’s new Split Worlds urban fantasy series called Between Two Thorns will be published by Angry Robot Books in 2013. She is represented by Jennifer Udden at DMLA. Her hobbies include dressmaking and playing RPGs. She blogs at www.enewman.co.uk, rarely gets enough sleep and refuses to eat mushrooms.

For me, a hero is someone who actively works to achieve a goal for the good of others when there is a risk of losing something, ranging from a peaceful existence to their own life. Perseverance is critical; a hero persists in their heroic endeavour far beyond the point where most people would give up. Most wouldn’t even try in the first place.

As for whether a hero is old-fashioned; no. The portrayal of heroes (i.e massively flawed as opposed to nothing more than bravery in a bap) changes to fit the needs and sophistication of the audience. However, the basic need to see someone being more than we are – but everything we could be – is eternal.

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Bryan Thomas Schmidt: Okay, Matt, so I launched my first Kickstarter the other day for this anthology called Beyond The Sun, space colonists stories, and in part, it’s your fault. I saw how much success you’ve been having with Kickstarter and thought it might be the best way to get my passion projects off the ground. How many Kickstarters have you run so far now?

Matt Forbeck: I’ve completed four Kickstarters, each of which is part of this 12 for ’12 challenge I set out for myself to write a dozen novels this year. I wanted to try something like this for a while, but I couldn’t figure out how I could afford to take the time to write the books until Kickstarter came along. It provided me a clean and easy way to reach out to readers and see if they liked my pitches for my books enough to support them.

I broke the dozen books up into four trilogies and ran a Kickstarter drive for each one of them. I’m happy to report that every one of them smashed past its funding goal, and I’m now busy writing all those books.

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[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

Where and how people (fans, reviewers and authors alike) were first introduced to genre often gives insight into how they think and write about genre. With that in mind, we asked this week’s panelists…

Q: Where, when and how were you introduced to Fantasy and Science Fiction?

Here’s what they said…

James MacDonald
James D. Macdonald is an author of over 35 fantasy and science fiction novels, often in collaboration with his wife Debra Doyle.

My dad introduced me to genre. He’d been what I guess you’d call a fan since the 1920s. The specific incident I recall was when he took me to the White Plains (New York) Public Library, back when I was in first or second grade, and we checked out Have Space Suit Will Travel and Sea Siege.

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