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Below are the most recent 25 friends' journal entries.
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|Saturday, December 7th, 2013|
|When Authors Talk Back . . .
There continues to be discussion of authors responding to critics and readers. I hear of twitter storms (since I don't do Twitter) and see links to furious exchanges--the latest being the Felicity Savage one.This is nothing new.
|December Books 3) Eyeless in Gaza, by Aldous Huxley
(If you're wondering what happened to December Books 1 and 2, they were unpublished manuscripts that I read for a friend. Both are strongly recommended, but they are not out yet.)
Apart from Brave New World
, the only other Huxley novel I had read was Crome Yellow
back when I was a student (and I remember very little about it). Eyeless in Gaza
combines some fairly brutal commentary about lefties in British politics in the late 1930s, but tells the story in a narrative which is sliced up between decades, several different strands interlacing. There are some particularly grim scenes, involving a dog, an amputation, and a suicide, which are a striking contrast with the theoretical philosophising of the main character. I thought this had some of Huxley's better women characters as well, with a frank depiction of shifting relationships among a group of friends. Nothing sfnal to see here, but recognisably from the same source as Brave New World
|Block that metaphor
says the atheists are "trying to abort Christ from Christmas." With the synergy of ignorance and stupidity that has made her what she is today, she attributed that view to Thomas Jefferson, who in boring old real life rewrote the Bible to eliminate the idea that Jesus was divine.
Thanx to Raw Story
|November Books 11) There Will Be Time, by Poul Anderson
I had read this as a teenager, and was very interested to find out how it stood up on rereading. It remains rather good - the protagonist is a mid-century American kid with the innate gift of time-travel, which he controls rather better than the husband in The Time-Traveller's Wife
. There's a lot of politics here, as a white supremacist time-traveller tries to set up a racist principality at the end of time; can he be stopped, given that time appears to be immutably set in its tracks?
This was also the book from which I learned about the Fourth Crusade
; somehow I simply hadn't heard of it before, and Anderson's portrayal of the brutal rupture of Christendom was a vivid historical eye-opener. All the good bits were as good as I remembered, and the bits I didn't remember were not bad at all.
|Colin Wilson 1931-2013
Colin Wilson is dead. Here's what I wrote about him years ago:( Read more...Collapse )
And a Horrible Example:
Pythagoras discovered the so-called irrational numbers. The ratio of the diameter of a clrcle to its circumference is 3 1/7. But if you try to turn this into decimals, it is impossible; the decimal for one-seventh begins .142857, and then repeats ltself an infinite number of times. So Pythagoras' belief that the universe is built out of neat whole numbers was exploded.
, his history of science
|November Books 10) Long Time Dead, by Sarah Pinborough
I absolutely hated
Pinborough's previous Torchwood
novel, and pondered whether to even crack the covers of this one. However, I'm glad I did; this picks up the story of Suzie Costello, five years after her death in the very first episode of Torchwood
, getting unexpectedly resurrected in the rubble of the Hub and creating mayhem while setting up some of the scenery for Miracle Day
. None of the regular Torchwood characters appear (apart from a very brief look-in from Jack Harkness) but it very nicely ties up a loose end of continuity.
|November Books 9) Nothing O'Clock, by Neil Gaiman
This was the last of the monthly Doctor Who ebooks produced this year, sending off the Eleventh Doctor in style with a short story by Neil Gaiman. This brings Amy and the Doctor to what seems at first a normal house with a normal little girl, and then the world starts to change in unexpectedly horrible ways - there are shades of Coraline
and of a couple of the Sandman
arcs here, but that's not a bad thing.
This wee series of books is presumably going to be published in hard copy as a single volume in time for the Christmas market. It will be a good buy, though consumers should be warned that the first story, Eoin Colfer's "A Big Hand For The [First] Doctor", is by far the weakest.
|November Books 8) Reamde, by Neal Stevenson
Another of Stephenson's contemporary blockbuster technothrillers, over a thousand pages, which returns to his familiar themes of peculiar families, virtual reality games and the economics of moving large amounts of cash around the world. There are scenes set in great detail of the westernmost sector of the US-Canada border, and a vividly realised chunk of the book set in Xiamen
, which I must admit was a city I had given no thought to whatsoever before picking up this book, though it sounds well worth a visit provided one can avoid a visit coinciding with Mafia and/or terrorists. There is
one whacking huge unbelievable coincidence fairly early on when gur Znsvn naq gur greebevfgf ghea bhg gb or ubyrq hc va nqwnprag ncnegzragf, haxabja gb rvgure, but apart from that it is pacy and enjoyable, with even the extensive detail final shoot-out crafted entertainingly.
On reflection I have reclassified Reamde
as non-sf rather than sf. There is nothing in it that requires counterfactual technology - possibly some aspects of the MMORPG are more advanced than anything in reality, but I found it all believable enough.
|November Books 7) Dark Progeny, by Steve Emmerson
Emmerson wrote another Eighth Doctor book which I read earlier this year, Casualties of War
; this one is similar in the setting - alien presence, which venal local human leaders try to exploit, not realising that it will do them no good - but a little more body horror and perhaps a bit less plot. Still, decent enough.
|November Books 6) Jacob Have I Loved, by Katherine Paterson
(Advance warning - lots of catchup bookblogging today.)
I was reminded of Paterson's utter classic Bridge to Terabithia
by Mari Ness's (spoilery) write-up
a few weeks ago, and just before my to-read list reached this novel, which also won the Newbery Medal (in 1981, three years after Terabithia
I didn't quite know what to expect. I was braced for another Terabithia
, a closely observed portrait of childhood friendship disrupted by a gut-wrenching plot development near the end. In fact it's very different - Jacob Have I Loved
is a story of sibling rivalry, or rather of how the narrator is completely overshadowed by her twin sister. Where the relative normality of the families in Terabithia
were a reassuring anchor for the narrative, here the awfulness of Louise's family surroundings, which start bad and keep getting worse, actually makes one almost wish for a Terabithia
-style climax. The actual happy ending felt a bit rushed and tacked-on, part of a different story.
But it's still beautifully observed. In the BBC radio series Clare in the Community
, there's a hilarious moment in episode 3.2
where Clare's mother is bewildered by Clare's resentment of her sister: "We always were careful to treat them both the same - the plain one and the pretty one!" Jacob Have I Loved
isn't a comedy; it's a great portrayal of a despairing teenager, isolated in her own family, which itself is on an isolated island in the Chesapeake Bay, and how she finally gets away.
Sunday, I wrote. My iron-clad rule is to never work on Sundays, because everybody needs a break; but with impending deadlines (having spent the previous week in Switzerland writing a paper about Vesta), I was at my desk all day, writing-writing-writing.
Monday, I finished my text for the chapter on Medieval Cosmology, for an upcoming book on Medieval Science Fiction. In the process of it I kept having to deal with my despair at how little I really know about the subject, and how different it is to talk glibly about this stuff on a panel at a local SF convention compared to writing a text that other people may be citing as if I were an expert. Impostor syndrome never goes away. Well, the chapter is done. I hope I haven't told too many lies and that whoever does read it will appreciate the spirit in which it is presented...
Tuesday morning, the Medieval paper was sent off. Thud.
That night I was up until 2 am working with my co-author on the last bits of the ET book. I left him with ten pages to revise. He got those to me (with much weeping and teeth-gnashing) late Wednesday night. I made the changes, and left him a copy of the text for one last read-through on his part. Finally, he got those to me at 10 pm Thursday.
Since both of us had to be up to catch a 7 am train to Rome on Friday (he's off for his annual retreat, I had a meeting in Rome) it really had to be finished then. I skimmed over and accepted virtually all his suggested revisions. At about 11 pm, the text of Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?
was dropped into an email, and sent off to my editor in New York. Thud.
Friday was spent in Rome, attending the first meeting of a scientific advisory council to a newly formed something-or-another on science and faith at the Vatican. I only understood about half of what we were doing there, and why, and that was *after* we switched to English. Met some nice people and got a good pranzo out of the deal, however.
Saturday (today) I was up at 5:30 am to meet a photographer from the Detroit Free Press
, here to take pictures of Detroiters at the Vatican. She wanted the morning light. She got it. We drank lots of coffee and talked about the Tigers. All in all, a wonderful time, but I am ready to fall over asleep...
|December Meme Day 6: Jewels
paaaaaaaaaaaaain dear body I hate you
That aside. December meme! Today's topic, requested by philippos42 again, is "Jewels."
Jewels! Jewels are gorgeous and I kind of love them a lot? My birthstone is emerald. The really pure ones, the deep foresty green color like this,
I love those, and sapphires. And rubies! Which are also sapphires-- red sapphires are called rubies, and any other color is a sapphire. I like the blue sapphires obviously but also purple gems, amethysts and purple sapphires like this.
I'm not a huge fan of diamonds? I think they're kind of boring. They're like the baby's breath in a flower arrangement; they look nice but they're better when they set something else off. Oh, but blue opals! Opals in general, actually, I think they are amazingly gorgeous, but blue opals
are something else entirely. I have a necklace with one in it, silver setting-- it looks like this
except, obviously, the stone is a blue opal, and oh my gosh. It was a 75$ impulse purchase and I have never regretted a moment of it.
So, um, yes. I love jewels. I think they are gorgeous. I like them better one or a few at a time, usually; I feel like more than three or four in a necklace overwhelms me, at least. And someday I will have a necklace with a real, genuine emerald in it. Also one with a sapphire. And one with a ruby. This is a life goal.
This entry is crossposted at http://bookblather.dreamwidth.org/228563.html
. Please comment over there if possible.
|Friday, December 6th, 2013|
|More on Aging
Instead of going on with the other exciting prompts, I want to expand a little on the benefits of aging question, because the comments were so rich. cakmpls
brought up something I should absolutely have mentioned: "people seem to have stopped expecting me to conform to some image of what I "should" be." I think there are still areas where people expect me to conform at least somewhat (after all, I have a --relaxed, unfussy--day job), but she's close to what I describe as "When my hair turned gray, I stopped being fat and started being old." What I mean by that is that with brown hair, I often got the side-eye on the BART or the bus, that "you take up too much space" look. When my hair turned gray, people started offering me seats, even though I was the same size I had been. I thought that was fascinating, and even though I often refuse the offers of seats, I appreciate every one of them.cme
talked about how we fit into our cohorts in terms of age, the difference between being the oldest person in the group and the youngest. Since leaving high-school, I've never really been either; I've always hung with people of a wide variety of ages. But I think what she's talking about in terms of whether you are the flighty not-together one or the one people go to for advice is an important part of the discussion.
And a few people talked about still feeling like the person they were when they were 20. I didn't mean to say that I don't know that person in me; I do have a lot of the same values, a lot of the same pleasures, and some of the same fears. But I feel (and of course, that doesn't say anything about how anyone else feels) like all of those things are mediated by the river of time that has flowed between me then and me now; I look back on them and I see both similarities and differences, I've had a mostly continuous life, punctuated by great earthquakes of change. If I tried to fit back into 20-year-old me, there wouldn't be room.
|Helping Andi pack
My friend Andi (WINOLJ/DW) is moving in about a week, and has asked for friends to help pack. I figured hey, this would be useful and I'd get to spend some time with her, so I emailed her. After some back-and-forth about schedules and such, we agreed on this morning.
I got to Andi's (current) apartment a little before ten, and we talked in between her taking necessary phone calls. It turns out the sudoku app I downloaded a few days ago is handy for that sort of situation, because it's distracting and 100% interruptable: unlike a book, I'm not tempted to finish my paragraph, or worried about losing the thread. So we talked, about the move and the rest of our lives and random other stuff, and eventually I realized that I was overdue for lunch. Around then, Andi's friend Astrid called, and Andi said yes, please come over, we're having a lot of fun here but not actually getting anything done. So the two of us went to a pho place for lunch, and Astrid met us afterward, and proceeded to demonstrate her packing and carrying skills. I did some useful stuff, wrapping some tchotchkes and putting books in boxes and stuff, and Andi put things into categories: what to keep and what to sell or donate, and then the "keep" is classified by whether it will be needed the night she moves in, sometime relatively soon, or enough into the future that it can go into a storage unit.
Andi and I both ran out of steam a little after four, and I headed for the bus. The trip home was pretty straightforward, but also another example of my suspicion that a lot of people in this area don't know how to ride a bus. Specifically, they won't move to the back to make room as more people board, even if the driver asks. (This means that I have a good chance of a seat on a crowded 358 because people are too busy clumping in front to notice that the space in back includes available seats.)
I will call that a productive day, though I suspect not much practical would have happened without Astrid's involvement.
Cross-posted from Dreamwidth (http://redbird.dreamwidth.org/1409678.html
), where there are
comments. I welcome comments here or there (OpenID and "anonymous" are fine if you don't have a DW account).
DANGEROUS WOMEN is here. The anthology was released on December 3 in hardcover and ebook, and should be available from your favorite local bookstore or online retailer. This is a monster, as those who have already snagged a copy can testify, a massive crossgenre assembly of all original stories about women warriors, femmes fatale, and kickass adventurers, containing not only "The Princess and the Queen," my own 30,000 word account of the Dance of the Dragons, but all sorts of other terrific stuff as well.
Here's a story about the book from today's PASATIEMPO, the magazine of the Santa Fe NEW MEXICAN.http://www.santafenewmexican.com/pasatiempo/books/readings_signings/damsels-who-distress-dangerous-women-an-anthology/article_2b831a74-dac3-5826-b1eb-5a4b1f89d4cc.html
Our table of contents:
The full table of contents:
INTRODUCTION, by Gardner Dozois
SOME DESPERADO, by Joe Abercrombie
MY HEART IS EITHER BROKEN, by Megan Abbott
NORA’S SONG, by Cecelia Holland
THE HANDS THAT ARE NOT THERE, by Melinda Snodgrass
BOMBSHELLS, by Jim Butcher
RAISA STEPANOVA, by Carrie Vaughn
WRESTLING JESUS, by Joe R. Lansdale
NEIGHBORS, by Megan Lindholm
I KNOW HOW TO PICK ‘EM, by Lawrence Block
SHADOWS FOR SILENCE IN THE FORESTS OF HELL, by Brandon Sanderson
A QUEEN IN EXILE, by Sharon Kay Penman
THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR, by Lev Grossman
SECOND ARABESQUE, VERY SLOWLY, by Nancy Kress
CITY LAZARUS, by Diana Rowland
VIRGINS, by Diana Gabaldon
HELL HATH NO FURY, by Sherilynn Kenyon
PRONOUNCING DOOM, by S.M. Stirling
NAME THE BEAST, by Sam Sykes
CARETAKERS, by Pat Cadigan
LIES MY MOTHER TOLD ME, by Caroline Spector
THE PRINCESS AND THE QUEEN, by George R.R. Martin
And for those in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, or the rest of the Land of Enchantment...
Tthis Monday, my co-editor Gardner Dozois and I will be at the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe with seven of our writers. So come join me and Steve Stirling and Melinda Snodgrass and Diana Rowland and Gardner Dozois and Carrie Vaughn and Diana Gabaldon and Sam Sykes and Megan Lindholm/ Robin Hobb for an evening of DANGEROUS TALK ABOUT DANGEROUS WOMEN,
So come and hear us if you can, and get your books signed as well. We should have copies of many other titles by our attending writers on hand, along with a big stack of DANGEROUS WOMEN itself. Current Mood: excited
|Saturday, December 7th, 2013|
|What I’ve Been Reading – November edition
Life is so hectic at the moment that I’m barely able to get a blog post out a month. I’d like to blame the kids, but really I’ve spent most of my time playing and discussing and giggling over the worst cricket game ever made. Ashes 2013:
I’ve also recorded a new episode of Writer and The Critic with my lovely co-host Kirstyn McDermott. That should be dropping into people’s RSS Feeds or equivalent in a couple of days. And I have been reading. Quite a few books actually. Here’s what I thought of them.
Books You Should Go Out and Buy Right Now and Read!!!!!
Love is The Law by Nick Mamatas
I’m going to say more about this book on a future episode of Writer and The Critic, but in short I loved it. It’s a crime novel set in the 80′s that involves communism, the Occult and a soupcon of Chasidism (it’s the first novel I’ve ever read that references Qlipha. Madonna would be proud!). Dawn is a fucking awesome character. Not because she’s in your face or wields katanas or ‘takes no shit from anyone’. But because she’s angry – justifiably so given her fucked family situation – and it’s her anger and frustration that fuels the narrative. There’s no redemption here and no sweet endings. Instead what we get is a short novel with the impact of a sledgehammer to the face.
Trucksong by Andrew MacRae
Just like the Mamatas this book isn’t about redemption or happy endings. And like the Mamatas there’s an anger that drives the narrative (though nowhere near the intensity of Love Is The Law). I’m generally not a fan of post apocalyptic novels, I think Cormac McCarthy’s The Road says everything that needs to be said about what happens to society after the shit hits the fan. But with Trucksong I make an exception. Partly it’s because of the world building on display. The post cyberpunk vibe of self aware trucks and gigacities and the fusion between body and silicon. This is the only novel you’ll ever read that has trucks shagging each other. But really I loved this book because on a sentence by sentence level the writing is beautiful and the language – the ocker-isms that litter the novel and the neologisms – give the story a genuine sense of place. This is Australian science fiction at its best.
Five Autobiographies and a Fiction by Lucius Shepard.
Lucius Shepard is genuinely one of the best writers in the SF/F/H field. And I don’t mean that he writes really cool stories but that the actual writing has a depth and complexity that you simply don’t find in most genre work. This is a collection of six novella / novelettes. While I didn’t love all of the pieces in the collection, I was never disappointed by the writing. If you haven’t read Shepard before – and you really should – this is as good a starting point as any.
Honorable Mentions But Still Very Much Recommended
Martian Sands by Lavie Tidhar
Time Travel. Martian kibbutzim. A robot Golda Meir. This short novel is extraordinary – a bizarre mix of Burroughs, Bradbury and PKD. And while the ending for me was a confused and surreal mess (I probably need to reread it), the questions it raises about how the Holocaust changed the Jewish people are thought provoking. In many ways it’s a very personal novel and possibly (though maybe not) you need to be Jewish or Israeli to get the full impact.
The Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell
It’s described as a novel, but it’s more a novella. It’s my first taste of Daniel Woodrell and I’ll be coming back for more. It’s based on a true story of a dance hall in the Ozarks that burned down in the late 20s killing 42 people. The little snippets describing the goings on of some of the people who died in the fire are heart breaking. The language and lyricism of the novella might be off putting for some (I’d read a sample) but it hit the spot for me.
Jude Level 1 by Julian Gough
Maybe you need to be Irish to appreciate all the jokes, but I still found plenty to laugh at. I’d describe this as Ireland’s answer to Forrest Gump but that would be a massive insult to what’s a smart, satirical novel that even foreshadows the Global Financial Crisis. I’m still tossing up on the funniest bit of the novel – the bit where our main character is mistaken for Stephen Hawking or when he has sex on a camel. I’ll definitely be buying the sequel.
Nova Swing by M.John Harrison
I didn’t hate it and at times I enjoyed it. But I’m not sure I totally appreciate what Harrison is doing here. Maybe after reading Empty Space the penny will drop.
Plastic by Christopher Fowler
I normally enjoy Fowler’s work but this simply didn’t do it for me. For a thriller it’s far too long and there are too many side steps and tangents. Just as I thought the book was picking up pace, the novel would stop dead to describe a part of London or reflect on the main character’s shopping habits. Unlike Joanne Harris’, who in the foreword questions why this book never found a market (given how AWESOME is it), I think I know the answer. It lacks focus and never seems to be entirely clear on what it wants to be. Because it’s Fowler it’s readable and at times enjoyable. But only read it if your a die hard fan of his work.
Mirrored from The Hysterical Hamster.
|Friday, December 6th, 2013|
|So apparently I ask this every two years but
...Does anyone still have the end to this old Tenipuri fic
I HAVE LOST THREE COMPUTERS SINCE THE TIME I ASKED IN 2011
so there is, again, no backup copy. This time I'm @#$% finishing it and uploading it to AO3. I suppose I have improved as a writer, not so much because the current stuff reads any better (it does, marginally) but because the dashed thing no longer holds any terrors. I don't know what was so difficult about it anymore, other than the fact that it's about Oshitari and Atobe negotiating an aspect of their lives that at the time I started the fic I hadn't finished negotiating myself (had barely started, really).
|To Do: School: DONE!
Sort of. I still have a paper and a half left to write. And I won't officially graduate (and so have to continue paying fees) for another six months, during which I have to attend one hour every other week of case discussion, due to the traineeship situation.
But in terms of classes, as of yesterday at 10:00 PM, I am officially DONE!Crossposted to http://rachelmanija.dreamwidth.org/1126700.html. Comment here or there.
Work is being really full. Really really full, to the extent that neither the Real Science project, nor the major project I inherited in spring and really don't like, have had much of my time over the past couple of weeks, because urgent things keep cropping up and taking a day or half a day to be dealt with. At least I appear to have headed off one of my colleagues' "why don't you rename everything through the whole database to make this thing of mine slightly easier" bright idea without starting an argument. We have a Real Science result which may be interestingly significant or may just represent some circular logic hidden in the conceptualisation, which is a recurrent fear with working on this level of abstraction.marylace
's visit continues lots of fun. We had belated birthday dinner for papersky
in Reuben's on Tuesday with Z and A, I got to share a hot spinach and cheese dip and a mushroom skillet and that was lovely, played Apples to Apples some with cyberneticnomad
and E Wednesday which was good for a more tired than usual rysmiel
(I slept poorly the previous night due to being anxious about being late for a supposedly important early morning meeting) and had dinner in Azuma yesterday evening with alixsin
which was as usual utterly excellent. Also I have done about half of my Christmas cards. Had an odd bad mood early yesterday, combination of feeling surrounded with stuff to do and fear that there's other stuff I should be doing if I knew what it was and I really should know what it is, but the soothing atmosphere of Azuma and the good company helped that lift pretty much entirely. Planning to write tonight should also help lift the feeling surrounded by stuff to do.
|December 6 (1989)
Geneviève Bergeron (b. 1968), civil engineering student.
Hélène Colgan (b. 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Nathalie Croteau (b. 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Barbara Daigneault (b. 1967), mechanical engineering student.
Anne-Marie Edward (b. 1968), chemical engineering student.
Maud Haviernick (b. 1960), materials engineering student.
Maryse Laganière (b. 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique's finance department.
Maryse Leclair (b. 1966), materials engineering student.
Anne-Marie Lemay (b. 1967), mechanical engineering student.
Sonia Pelletier (b. 1961), mechanical engineering student.
Michèle Richard (b. 1968), materials engineering student.
Annie St-Arneault (b. 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Annie Turcotte (b. 1969), materials engineering student.
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (b. 1958), nursing student.
killed by some loser for being smart women
Thanx to james_nicoll
et al. for the reminder
Ave atque vale, Nelson Mandela.