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26th August 2014
Words: 1354 :
Total words: 5962
Tea: Gaba Dragon
Music: Power up music through headphones then nothing. Must find a way to get Bach on computer.
Reason for stopping: end of chapter 3, though it will need stuff.
I'm in Rome. Some of those words were in Cardiff, and some just now.
In Rome, caput mundi, going out now to eat great food and see great things. And writing. What bliss.
1st August 2014
Secular Humanist Comfort Poem
These things make us feel helpless, want to pray :
Or rage at Gods who made things work this way
It's very hard to face a universe
Where random chance can strike down like a curse.
Because we live and love and know and care
We want existence to be kind of fair
The bad to meet their proper just desserts
And good people be free of all that hurts.
What can we do? We face a world that's blind
And hits out randomly, it's not unkind
But cold, indifferent, doesn't care a bit
And can't be changed by what we offer it.
We face this, then one day our friends get ill
And all we have to trust is human skill.
21st July 2014
GoH at Balticon in 2015
I'm a guest of honour at Balticon next year. Balticon is Memorial Day weekend, in Baltimore. I was there this year, it's a fun con -- big. lots of stuff, lots of fans. :
I just thought I'd mention this here now, because it seems as if a lot of my friends might be finding themselves unexpectedly free at Memorial Day weekend next year, and if so it would be lovely to see you all at Balticon.
20th July 2014
A dawn will come
Vallhall stands empty now, silent and cold, :
The shield-roof shivered, all the dead are gone,
Down where they feasted fly the wind-blown leaves,
Spiralling, fall, to rise and fall again,
Dead leaves, one golden plume, a sheet of runes,
The playthings of the wanton whirling wind,
No ghosts, no gods, no answers, and no songs.
19th July 2014
My LonCon3 Schedule
: Reading: Jo Walton
Thursday 15:30 - 16:00, Capital Suite 10 (ExCeL)
Thursday 17:00 - 18:00, Capital Suite 1 (ExCeL)
Norse mythology music focusing on the death of Baldur and the strife between Odin and his blood-brother Loki. Ada Palmer and Lauren Schiller performing as the duo “Sassafrass: Trickster & King,” will sing selections from Sassafrass's close harmony a cappella song cycle project Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok, which narrates the history of the cosmos according to Viking legend, from the creation of the world to Ragnarok. In this performance they will be joined by Jo Walton, who will read some of her Norse mythology-inspired poetry that complements the music.Feeding the Imagination: Food in SF/F
Friday 11:00 - 12:00, Capital Suite 3 (ExCeL)
The food in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series is described in such detail that cookbooks have been published in response. What other genre works have focused heavily on food to develop the world and characters? What does food say about an invented society? Are stories that lack an exploration of the diet of their characters lacking something?
Shana Worthen (M) Aliette de Bodard , Gillian Polack, Jo Walton , Fran WildeBig Anthologies: Bookends or Benchmarks?
Friday 16:30 - 18:00, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)
There's a genre tradition of doorstop-sized anthologies that attempt to synopsise a period or style: Ascent of Wonder, The Weird, Twenty-First Century Science Fiction, and others. What makes these anthologies successful, or not? Does 'success' mean summarising a past conversation, or influencing the conversation that's still going on? Or are they always and inevitably doomed enterprises? Is it possible to TOC an age, or a genre? Or are these sorts of anthologies in fact arguments, rather than snapshots?
Jo Walton (M) , Martin Lewis, Jonathan Strahan, Jeff VanderMeer, Ellen Datlow1938: The Year In SF/F
Saturday 10:00 - 11:00, Capital Suite 2 (ExCeL)
"This panel will discuss the shortlists for the 1939 Retro-Hugos. What do the shortlists tell us about the science fiction of 1938? What has stood the test of time, and what has taken on different meaning or significance over the intervening years? What are the notable omissions that would have set off the readers of 1939 on the annual condemnation of Hugo voters?"
Jo Walton, John Clute, Curt Phillips, Andy DuncanAutographing 4 - Jo Walton
Saturday 12:00 - 13:30, Autographing Space (ExCeL)
Jo Walton(email@example.com)Coode Street 200
Saturday 15:00 - 16:30, Capital Suite 8+11 (ExCeL)
Coming to you live, from the temporarily relocated Coode Street Motel 6, it's Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe on the 200th episode of the Hugo-nominated Coode Street podcaaaaaaaaaaaaaast! Expect the usual discussion and digression about science fiction and fantasy, with contributions from special guests Kim Stanley Robinson, Robert Silverberg and Jo Walton.
Kim Stanley Robinson, Robert Silverberg, Jonathan Strahan, Gary Wolfe, Jo WaltonSF and the English Summer
Sunday 15:00 - 16:30, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)
Summer is the time for picnics, discovering the countryside and falling through portals, a rainy summer day sends us into the far reaches of the old house. Winter brings mystery, spring brings sacrifice. To each season there is an adventure. The panellists will discuss the "traditional" English weather, it's role in fantasy and the effect of Climate Change on our perennial topic of conversation. Bring your own umbrella and sun block.
Caroline Mullan (M), Prof Euan Nisbet, Christopher Priest, Jo WaltonKaffeeklatsch
Monday 11:00 - 12:00, London Suite 5 (ExCeL)
17th July 2014
Things you didn't know about Heraclitus
I was re-reading Popper's : The Open Society and its Enemies
before falling asleep, and indeed, as you will see, after falling asleep. I think I may have mentioned that I read until I am asleep, and then after I am asleep I close the book and remove my glasses and turn off the light.
So I was reading about Heraclitus, and I came to the sentence "He got this idea from the oriental..." and I thought "Oh what an unfortunate word, maybe it was OK in 1943 when he wrote it but how could I not have noticed it on previous reading, oh dear!" and continued reading "the oriental Cao Li, the woman whose trip from China through India and Persia to Greece and back may have been the original inspiration for Journey to the West
The book then went on to discuss: the influence of Buddhism on her and her on Buddhism, and her version of Buddhism on Heraclitus; whether Plato's ideas on agape and female philosophers were influenced by Heraclitus's writings about Cao Li (he couldn't have been influenced by her directly because none of her writing was in Greek); how Zola wrote a novel about her relationship with Heraclitus; how Western philosophers had traditionally tried to diminish her original thought; how recent work showed her thought was truly original and not just Chinese commonplaces; how difficult it is to discuss historicism and cultural change with respect to China; how significant her work was to Chinese philosophy; how much more important her work was to Heraclitus (who admitted it) and indirectly through him via Plato to Western philosophy; and whether or not she and Heraclitus had a romantic as well as an intellectual relationship.
When I woke up I was deeply disappointed to discover that, in the text as printed, the word "oriental" was actually followed by "despotisms".
10th July 2014
A cover for The Just City
There's a cover for : The Just City
up on Amazon. This isn't going to be the real cover. The cover is being entirely rethought, and when there's a real cover I will let you know. (However, there's a real book, and it really can be pre-ordered.) Accepting that this isn't the real cover, and the real cover will be completely different, since that cover is out there I thought it might be interesting to see what you thought of it, just for my own amusement.
The flap copy is there too, and that probably is real.
8th July 2014
The Panda Coin, live at Lightspeed
My short story : The Panda Coin
is now available for free online at Lightspeed. And if you like it, you could consider buying the whole issue.
It's a writing exercise story. I read Marguerite Yourcenar's "A Coin In Nine Hands" and thought it would be nifty to write a science fiction version of a story where a coin circulated through a society and gave a picture of that society. The society in question is a space station I'd developed earlier for something else.
2nd July 2014
Words: 4608 :
Total words: 4608
Files: 5 (PK file also)
Tea: Some jasmine pearls, some elderflower and lemon, lots of cold water
Music: Power-up music through headphones and then nothing
Reason for stopping: stopped for meals, stopped when interrupted, stopped to sleep, stopped when I'd finished a chapter and we were nearly here.
We have been doing some things. We went to the Lowell Observatory, which is awesome, and looked through a telescope at the sun, whereupon I immediately wrote three paragraphs of Apollo POV, some of it sitting on a wall and some of it in the back seat of a car. (When I really want to write, I can write anywhere. As long as I have Protext. And I do.) When we were in Vegas we went to the Hoover Dam, which is definitely a wonder of the world.
And on the train from Los Angeles (well, San Bernadino, don't even ask) to Chicago I finished that chapter and wrote another one. So I guess I am actually writing this book, which is Thessaly 3. And so far I have written two chapters on the train. Most of this trip I've been editing the Hugo book on the train, and it's very nearly done. I've also done a little bit of revising the Philosopher Kings. But this was actual real writing. On the train!
For those interested in process, sometimes I am very visual. I saw a view in Seattle and knew it was a thing I needed, and lo, it was a thing I needed. And I looked at the sun and it was a real place with writhing edges, and I knew it was a thing I needed a lot, and we went back to see it again the next day. And Ada mentioned a thing about Hermes and I knew that was a thing I'd been needing and sort of half thinking about without knowing I had been. And I'd certainly been thinking about things. But there's also the bit where it actually works by magic. Because all the intellectual thinking about wanting to write this in the world, and all the looking at things and thinking and working out, doesn't make sense of the way I couldn't write it because it was too hard and then suddenly I could write it and it was easy.
There is a spring in my head. Sometimes it drips, sometimes it gushes, sometimes it gets wound really tight and then releases, and sometimes it produces sudden huge flowers and bright green leaves on bare branches. And it's completely beyond my control what it's going to do. Nobody's going to ask me how I got the idea for this book, because it's book 3. But I got the idea for this book, Necessity
when I looked into the sun and saw the edges writhing.
Flights of Fantasy Albany Tomorrow, with Alison Sinclair
Is it really July? Seriously? :
This tour is nearly over. It feels as if it has been going on forever. I've forgotten I live anywhere except in hotels and on trains and eating weird food at odd times. But just two more trains and one more bookstore and I'll be home!
I'm reading in Flights of Fantasy in Albany tomorrow at 7pm, and this is an especially exciting reading because I'll be reading with my friend Alison Sinclair, who will be reading from her new SF novel Breakpoint Nereis
. Do come if you're anywhere near, it'll be great.
In other news, my story "The Panda Coin", originally from Eclipse 4, is now available at Lightspeed
. You can buy it now, and it will be online there sometime soon.
27th June 2014
I'm in Las Vegas. I hate casinos. Hate, hate, hate. I can't believe they got me to go back to one after Reno. I don't think there's anything people do that I can understand less how it's supposed to be fun. :
This is the radio interview I did in Portland
. I can't remember what I said, but it was pretty fun and we talked about George Eliot, so it might be worth listening to.
This is the video interview I did in Skokie Library
, I really can't remember what I said at all it was too long ago.
Beyond Wikipedia, does anyone have any good links or book recommendations for stuff on stellar nurseries and star formation? (Readable, solid, current.)
21st June 2014
Santa Fe Tomorrow
The Albuquerque signing went very well. :
Tomorrow I am doing a thing in grrm
's awesome Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe, with music from Sassafras Trickster and King, both Ada and Lauren. We're going to do the same reading I've been doing, plus Norse music and poetry. It's going to be great. You should totally come!
20th June 2014
I'll be reading and signing, and Ada will be singing, tomorrow in Page One books in Albuquerque, at 3pm. Do come if you are in the area. :
The desert and the mountains are so beautiful here.
As we were coming along on the train, we were thinking about the word Albuquerque and how it is spelled, and it's definitely not Latin. If it were Latin, it would begin "alba" and it would mean "White Whatsit".
16th June 2014
Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego Tomorrow
I'm reading and signing, and Ada will be singing, in Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego tomorrow evening at 7pm. Do come if you are anything like local. I'm getting really good at this chapter now!
Kurd Laßwitz Preis
: Among Others
also known as In Ein Anderen Welt
, has won the Kurd Laßwitz Preis
for best translated SF of 2013. I'm sure this is largely due to the excellent translation of Hannes Riffel, and also the splendid cover Golkonda put on it. This is the German Nebula, it's voted on by genre professionals. Very nice to think they like it.
12th June 2014
From Debbie: :
After the signing, we'll be at Esperpento
, a tapas and
small plates restaurant with lots of vegetarian choices. It's about two
long blocks from Borderlands, and we should have the whole upstairs.
The restaurant gets really
noisy and crowded in the later evening,
but should be fine in the time frame we'll be there. See you then!
So that sounds like a plan!
We're safely in Emeryville. Train was on time.
11th June 2014
Two forthcoming events in the Bay Area
The Powells reading yesterday went really well, loads of people, really fun. They have a new reading space with much better acoustics, so "Somebody Will" sounded incredibly powerful. I love having music in my signings! Also, I was interviewed on local radio, Ada found a great comic store called Floating World, and we found an excellent Japanese place with okonomiyaki and went there twice. :
We're leaving on the Coast Starlight this afternoon -- America has the best train names! (The Cascades, the train that runs between Vancouver and Portland is so European that we both felt it was odd that things were in English.)
We'll be arriving in the Bay Area tomorrow, where I am reading at Copperfields in Petaluma on Friday at 7pm, and at Borderlands in San Francisco on Saturday at 3pm. I believe
is organizing a meal after this like last time. Come and see me, Bay Area people!
I know I'm not posting a lot right now about anything that isn't trains and "I'm doing a thing, come and see me if you are local", sorry about that, but that's pretty much all I'm doing.
8th June 2014
Portland -- Tuesday
Made it to Seattle just in time to shower, drink tea, and make it to the reading, which went very well. It was followed by eating salmon in the evening sunshine with a group of people. Seattle has such great weather! Every time I've been here it's been beautiful, with the sunlight sparkling on the water and the mountains looking wonderful. :
Today we've had a decadent luxurious day shopping and eating in Pike Place Market, and tomorrow we're heading to Portland.
I'm reading in the Beaverton Powells at 7pm on Tuesday. If you are in Portland, or anywhere remotely near Portland, come along.
5th June 2014
Seattle Reading Saturday
So the reading in Uncle Hugos on Tuesday was great, and we are continuing to have a good time with people in Minneaopolis. But we should have left on last night's Empire Builder, which would have brought us to Seattle on Friday morning, in good time to recover in time for Saturday's reading. However, last night's Empire Builder was cancelled, for reasons that are not Amtrak's fault but the fault of oil companies that would rather pay a fine than allow passenger trains to get through. We're taking tonight's train, and will be in Seattle Saturday morning... if the oil trains don't slow us down too much along the way. I really really hope they don't. :
So Saturday afternoon's reading and signing at University Bookstore is being postponed to 6pm, to be on the safe side.akirlu
is arranging a get together for afterwards. If you're in Seattle, come to the reading! Hang out later!
(The other annoying thing about this is that we had a room booked on last night's train, and tonight the rooms are naturally all booked already, so we'll be sitting up for two nights, and then reading without much rest. But hey.)
2nd June 2014
Jay Lake, 1964-2014
I just now heard, catching up on LJ. I've been trying to get this poem exactly right, and now it's too late. :
You're brave, you laugh, go on, through weakness, pain,
Go through the fire, endure it, cope and fight
You want so much to live and love and write
You scoff at death, win through, then fall again.
When medicine and science aren't enough
When doctors don't want to prognosticate
When all the hope is gone and there's a date
You know you won't live past, that's really rough.
And still you're brave and laugh, approaching ends
Cause you to wring the joy from every day
To do as much each moment as you may
Work on, make differences, and see your friends.
You want so much to live your life as you
But face it that you're just not going to.
On to Minneapolis
The best thing in Chicago was Ada singing "Somebody Will" in the control room in Fermilab, while people were actually controlling neutron beams all around. That was amazing. Fermilab itself is wonderful, and if you get a chance to go around it with : beamjockey
leap at it.
The reading at Skokie Library went well -- I was interviewed first, and then we did the same thing we've been doing. There weren't many questions and somebody asked me to read a bit more, so I read a bit of chapter 2, during which I realised that in the rush to fix MRC while writing The Just City
, and then doing the copyedit in Texas and the proofs before I flew to Warsaw I never actually read the whole book aloud -- that step somehow got missed. So that's odd. But people seemed to enjoy it. Then dinner after the signing with friends.
This trip is going very well so far.
And this afternoon we're taking the Empire Builder to Minneapolis, where I'm reading tomorrow, see previous rock.
30th May 2014
Minneapolis Tuesday -- it's not too soon
So I will be reading in Uncle Hugos in Minneapolis at 5pm on Tuesday, with the additional awesomeness of Ada singing, and it will all be fun. And afterwards we are planning to go with as many people as want to to : Punch Pizza
and eat pizza and hang out. If you're in Minneapolis and you're free on Tuesday, come along!
Chicago -- well, Skokie -- Sunday
I'm reading in Skokie Library on Sunday afternoon at 3pm. Chicago people, come to Skokie and hear me read, with singing from Ada. (It's not musical accompaniment, as somebody called it, because she sings and then I read and answer questions and then she sings some more.) :
Let me know if you're coming because we're thinking of maybe having dinner afterwards.
The Wellesley Books reading was terrific, loads of people, loads of friends, another terrific bookstore. Yesterday at BEA was exhausting -- so many people! So much signing! Such a big convention center thing!
Today we're taking the Lake Shore Ltd, and arriving in Chicago tomorrow for the signing on Sunday.
28th May 2014
That's word of the week -- it's pronounced vor-FROY-dah and it means the intense anticipatory joy of looking forward to future joys. It's German, and it seems weird to me that English has borrowed schadenfreude and not vorfreude -- so I've borrowed it myself and plan to use it a whole lot. :
I discovered it yesterday when a German fan emailed me to say that his copy of My Real Children
had arrived, and used it as a subject line.
The trip so far has been really great. Yesterday afternoon we went out to lunch with thekinginyellow
and discovered a really excellent gelateria, Dolce Gelateria
near the Christopher Street subway stop. It's really great -- equivalent to Fous Desserts in Montreal and as good as all but the very best gelato places in Florence and Rome. Also, they had something I've never had before and Ada had only had once, olive oil gelato. It had all the delicious richness and taste complexity of olive oil, and the creamy sweetness of gelato. Incredible. We plan to go there again on Thursday after BEA, and I commend it to your attention if you are in New York.
Also, in the same neighbourhood I discovered the US's strategic cheese reserve
, and a very cool Czech bistro
with excellent spaetzle, and an awesome fun letterpress place
with terrific original things. (You know what I love? Everything has a website now, so you don't have to memorize everything. I just found those to share with you by googling what they were plus "Greenwich Village".)
I mentioned Dolce Gelateria in the questions after my reading at the Word, a lovely bookstore in Brooklyn. One of the great things about this tour is getting to visit thriving indie bookshops, and it just makes me happy to see them. Last night's reading went well and was a ton of fun. Ada sang, I read and answered questions, Ada sang again and then I signed. This not only gave the attendees more variation than just listening to me, and excellent thematic music, but it had the unexpected bonus of energising me during the process, so that I was far less exhausted afterwards than I usually am, so that was great. We plan to repeat this fun program at other bookstores, so for those thinking of coming to the Wellesley Books reading tonight, there will definitely be music. After the event we had dinner in a neighbourhood bistro with a few friends, and that was lovely too.
And today we are zooming up to Boston.
And I feel such vorfreude for the rest of this trip!