Things at the end of my week.
sent me this to cheer up with: hundreds of unit war diaries from World War I are now available to read online
sent me a porcupine eating a pumpkin
. I had no idea they sounded so much like Muppets in real life.
3. On the subway to and from my dentist's appointment this afternoon, I read E.M. Forster's Pharos and Pharillon: A Novelist's Sketchbook of Alexandria Through the Ages
(1923). I have mixed feelings about the success of his characteristic irony when applied outside of Edwardian England; he writes so lightly and wryly of Philo and the Ptolemies, the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Arianism, the cotton trade and the Canopic Way, that it is easy to come away from both halves of the book with the sense that Forster is enthralled by the composite myth of Alexandria, rather less so with the cultures that actually went into it. (I freely admit he also alienated me at the conclusions of each half, Pharos with the statement that "The Copts still believe, with Timothy the Cat, in the single Nature of Christ; the double Nature, upheld by Timothy Whitebonnet, is still maintained by the rest of Christendom and by the reader," Pharillon with the apparently sincere "Alas! The modern city calls for no enthusiastic comment." I'd gathered quite clearly by that point that I was not Forster's assumed reader, but that was a particularly blatant reminder, and I feel there may be a place reserved in whichever hell is thematically appropriate for travel writers who exalt the past and lament the present, because people live in the present, too.) He loves Cavafy unreservedly and without self-consciousness, which I take as a redeeming feature. When he quotes Cavafy's poems, he gives full credit to the translator. Perhaps he should just have written a monograph.
4. The Guardian
has been turning up some nice poetry lately. I was particularly struck by Kit Wright's "Lament for Stinie Morrison
" and Pascale Petit's "My Father's Wardrobe
5. I have now seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier
(2014). Gaudior came over on Wednesday night and we watched it in between fettuccine alfredo and Boston brown bread pudding. (Baked this time in an actual oven! It took half an hour instead of fifty minutes! I love our oven!) I cannot promise to write any sort of post on it, but will happily discuss in comments if anyone's interested. Ditto Ann Leckie's Ancillary Sword
(2014), which delighted me by being a completely functional novel that just happens to be the second in a trilogy.
Tonight appears to be Autolycus' night for leaping onto things he should not. So far, his most notable transgressions include the hutch in the dining room and the topmost shelf of my contributor's copies. Both of those are a solid no
. The amount of clawing and kicking he does when removed indicates to me that he simply does not agree.
Hestia, on the other hand, is curled peacefully beneath the lamp on my desk and looks very relaxed and happy.
I am petting her a lot.
(or possibly opinions that are actually popular, but no one informed me because I live under a rock, and also this parenthetical statement is too long for its own good)
I've been sick half this week and my concentration is shot, so why not?
1. Story vs. writing. I think there is a useful distinction to be made between story and writing; between the essence of the tale, and the language it is clothed in. I came to this opinion partly because of Joe. Joe is much better at story
than I am, in the sense that he comes up with plot mechanisms that I find interesting. (I've mostly seen this in action in an RPG context.) I sort of cobble my stories together. I have a hell of a lot more practice with the language-clothing end of things. (It's as well it's just one of us with this specialty, because this way Joe earns money with physics, and we all eat.)
This is one of the reasons why, although I can tell the difference between good and bad prose (or what I
consider good and bad prose, anyway), bad prose doesn't automatically eject me from a story. If a particular piece of fanfic hits my trope kink buttons? I will put up with all sorts of bad prose. If you're writing giant robots and smashy battles and your female characters don't suck? I will put up with your bad prose. Feed me a story I like--hell, not even a story but a bunch of happy trope kink buttons mashed up together--and I'll keep reading.
That being said, when I was reading slush , I would, in fact, bounce stories for bad prose. If I'm recommending something to the editor upstairs, I want the story to be good at both
 I am no longer a slush reader, although I miss it and wouldn't mind doing it again someday.
2. I'm still bitter that real-time strategy completely killed turn-based strategy for the PC. But that may just be because I want to play M.A.X. for the rest of my life. And hey, there's Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth, even if I expect to cause the planet to die horribly. I've played Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, but not any of the "regular" Civilization games. And even when I played SMAC, I would do it on one of the easier settings. But that's okay because SMC:BE is now on my hard drive, mwahahahaha.
3. I like Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equations." It's manipulative! Tear-jerking! Sexist in that old-timey way, with the helplessness of the young girl! God knows, I highly doubt Godwin would have described a boy of equivalent age with such doelike innocence and tear-jerkitude, or possibly even used the word "boy" at all. And yet every time I read that damn story, I get to that one line and I cry
You don't have to tell me all the things that are terrible about the story! I agree with you! I found this essay by Paul Kincaid on the story
and his follow-up essay
to be very illuminating. And yet, I like
the story, in that way that I frequently like things that are not objectively good.
God knows, I cannot call it an unsuccessful
story either. I knew the entire plot of the story, and its title, and its author, at least five years before I was able to track it down, from reading sf literary criticism essays that I scraped out of my high school library. (Yes, there were some.) I can mention the story to Joe and he will know what I am talking about. I bet I could start a flamewar about it. (Please not here, or anyway, not while I'm still kind of sick.) I am personally indifferent to the idea of an sf literary canon because I am too lazy to read things for homework because, sorry, I dreamt last week that I had to write an exam for IBH World Literature and I am so done
with taking lit courses anymore. But is it a story that I would expect to find litcrit discussion of, skiffily, somewhere? Sure.
4. While I'm at it, I enjoyed slush reading.
I may just not have done it long enough to become completely jaded and cynical about it, though.
5. It is okay to spend just two hours writing your 1,000-word Yuletide story (plus a few minutes for tweaks). I've done that. As far as I can tell, no one has ever been able to tell the difference between the fast stories and the ones I slave over forever
while gnawing my fingernails ragged (or I would, if I still chewed my nails). In fact, this is true of more than fanfic. Stories are weird. Some of them take more effort than others, and I've never ever been convinced that the reader on the other end can reliably tell the difference without external evidence. If only effort were correlated with quality--but it isn't. Not usefully, in my experience.
6. So I didn't actually think Meyer's Twilight
was a good book (I read it because a friend sent it to me as a joke, and in fact it's pretty amiable airplane reading, which is what I used it for). I mock the sparklepires. Rather a lot, if you must know. (Not that a Yoon would mock anything, least of all a Yoon.) But it irritates me tremendously when people diss the people who like
Twilight and talk about how people buy bad books and how other books deserve to be bestsellers and cry me a river
. People read the books they want to read, people enjoy the books they enjoy, I may think Twilight
is kind of terrible but I will defend to the death
your right to think it is awesome, or to enjoy it despite thinking it's kind of terrible, or anything in between. This applies generally to romance (for me); romance is not my genre, I will mock individual romance novels (and I don't expect to stop), but we all have different tastes and I do not find romance novels inherently
more mockworthy than giant robot novels (Battletech tie-ins) or grimdark (Warhammer 40k tie-ins, Paul Kearney's Monarchies of God) or over-the-top mind-bond space opera (Margaret Weis's Star of the Guardians), all of which are things I've read. I am sure this applies generally all over the place. I am long past the point where I care much about literary merit anymore. De gustibus
- recent reading
Kit Reed. Mastering Fiction Writing
. This is an excellent book, process-oriented and largely aimed toward the beginner. Parts of it I disagree with violently, mainly because Reed is highly character-oriented and I am highly...not; when she talks about the necessity of getting into
characters' skins, I am apt to stare blankly at the page and go, I don't do
that. Or at least I usually don't; there are characters whose heads I get into, and then there are all the other characters, and I can tell you that the second category is far larger than the first. When I wrote "Ghostweight" I didn't spend a moment in Lisse's skin. Maybe it shows as a kind of heartlessness; I don't know; that's something for the reader to judge.
Nevertheless, this is a very good writing how-to book, very pragmatic. As a curiosity, I note also that Reed's prose is hell and away better than Damon Knight's, but that's something I knew already from reading examples of their short science fiction. Nevertheless, the quality of prose in a writing how-to book is not an absolute indicator of its usefulness, depending on what, indeed, it is you're looking for help with. I would rather have my throat slit than have to read a novel by Larry Brooks if the prose in his novels is anything like the prose in Story Physics
and Story Engineering
, strident, gallopingly tin-eared, but on the other hand, I have found those books far more helpful than I ever found John Gardner's The Art of Fiction
, no matter how much I admire Grendel
This book packs a lot into what is under 150 pages. Again, it's aimed mostly toward the novice writer, but it's very good. Recommended.
Breakdown of Reed's chapter topics and my assessments of them: ( Read more... )
Meanwhile, I have played 40 min. of Civilization: Beyond Earth on the easiest setting and am having fun blundering around the map exploring! I have no idea what I'm doing and I'm sure I will die horrible some turns down the line, but this weekend maybe I can have Joe explain the game to me. :D I'm already enraptured! One...more...turn...
Not least because they were specifically for Rediscovery reviews.
A: You can buy a review for a book for $100 (or by supporting my Patreon: see its page for specific details).
B: Authors may not buy reviews of their own books nor can their family members, publishers or agents. I have the right to decline any book; this is not to be taken as a negative comment on the author or book.
Authors may point out to me that their qualifying books are now out and while I cannot promise to read said, there will not be a charge if I do.
I reserve the right to break my own rules (except for B because, wow, can authors buying reviews go horribly wrong fast).
I actually don't remember how long it's been since the last time I had dairy products. As a long-established dairy-defier, I frequently give advice to people who are reducing or eliminating dairy, and I figure it makes sense to have that info all in one place.Allergen note
Almost all of my preferred creamy/buttery dairy substitutes are nut-based. I've done my best to make non-nut suggestions for those with nut allergies, but I'm not really an expert on that front.Equipment note
If you're going to go fully dairy-free, I highly recommend investing in two kitchen tools: a high-speed blender and a food processor. Mine are made by Vitamix and Cuisinart respectively, and I don't know what I'd do without them. These tools will let you easily make dairy substitutes that are tastier and usually cheaper than the storebought ones. A less essential but still useful third tool is an ice cream maker, which will let you experiment with sorbets and non-dairy ice creams.Shopping note
When buying packaged prepared foods, look for the word "parve" or "pareve" under a kosher symbol. Keeping kosher requires separating milk from meat; "parve" means that something contains neither milk nor meat and can therefore be eaten with either. This will save you a lot of time checking ingredient labels for sneaky things like whey in sandwich bread, casein in shredded fake cheese, etc. Note that parve things may still contain eggs, honey, and other non-vegan ingredients.Essential readingThe Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook
has amazing legume-based recipes for butter, cheese, whipped cream, and other dairy substitutes. Throughout this piece, I'll be referring to NDEC recipes. I've read and used a lot of non-dairy cookbooks, and NDEC is by far the best.
Now, on to the substitutions!Milk (for drinking, cereal, smoothies, etc.)
This is totally a matter of taste. Try a bunch of different store-bought milks and see what you like. I prefer almond milk for cereal and soy or hazelnut milk for drinking. Hazelnut milk can be used to make amazing Nutella-like hot chocolate! You can also make your own nut milks in a high-speed blender. I use the NDEC recipe for almond milk, which is just almond meal (aka almond flour) and water, and it's intensely almondy and delicious. Coconut milk (the sort intended for drinking, not the sort that comes in a can) is the best non-nut non-soy option, in my opinion, but some people prefer rice milk. I do like making my own horchata, and should really try it again now that I have a Vitamix.
Proportions for almond milk: 3.75 c water to 1 packed cup almond meal/flour or 5 oz. blanched almonds
Proportions for almond cream: 4.5 c water to 1 POUND (one full bag) almond meal or blanched almondsButter (spread)
Earth Balance is the standout spreadable butter substitute. There are many varieties, including soy-free. NDEC has a butter recipe but I haven't tried it yet.Butter (baking)
Melted butter can be replaced 1:1 with canola oil or melted REFINED coconut oil. (Unrefined coconut oil tastes like coconut. Refined tastes like nothing.) For butter sticks, try Earth Balance sticks, but be warned that they are pre-salted; if you use them, you'll probably want to reduce or omit any salt you usually put in your recipes. Fleischmann's unsalted margarine, which is kosher parve, is reportedly very good for baking, but I'm allergic to another ingredient in it so I can't personally vouch for it.Cream
NDEC has an excellent almond cream recipe that substitutes well for heavy cream, including whipping up into schlag. Coconut cream—the thick stuff at the top of a can of coconut milk, not to be confused with pre-sweetened cream of coconut for cocktails—can also be put in coffee or whipped. There does exist canned non-dairy whipped cream, but it's quite hard to find outside of hippie specialty groceries.Sour cream and buttermilk
The easy way for making ingredients to use in recipes: add 1 Tbsp cider vinegar per cup of cream to make sour cream; add 1 tsp cider vinegar per cup of milk and let stand 5 minutes to make buttermilk. NDEC also has recipes for sour cream and buttermilk that stand well on their own.Cream cheese
I never liked it, so I couldn't tell you which substitute is best, but NDEC has a recipe and there are a few packaged vegan cream cheese varieties available.Yogurt
There are many, many soy and coconut yogurts out there. WholeSoy unflavored unsweetened yogurt is the best for cooking, and can be used as a starter if you want to make your own yogurt. I've never been a fan of eating yogurt qua yogurt, but I expect brands etc. are mostly a matter of taste anyway, so try some and see what you like.Cheese
Cashew ricotta was one of the first substitute dairy products I ever made, and it was life-changing. Soak raw, unsalted cashews for four hours, pour out the water, put the cashews in your food processor, and drizzle in fresh cold water as you process them until the texture becomes creamy and ricotta-like. Add salt to taste. When I use it for lasagna, I process in fresh basil and nutmeg.
Regal Vegan makes a basil cashew ricotta called Basilicotta that's out of this world. Unfortunately, it goes off very quickly. If you buy it, make sure there's still plenty of time before the expiration date, and use it up as soon as you can.
NDEC has superb recipes for a wide variety of cheeses: some for slicing, some for shredding, some for eating by the fistful. I made NDEC's mozzarella with homemade almond milk and it was incredible; the texture wasn't quite perfect, but it was splendid on pasta and pizza, and yes, it melts! It doesn't get gooey, but next time I might add a bit of xanthan gum to help with that. The cheese melts best in steamy/liquid environments, such as when stirred into a pasta sauce. Under direct heat, it will brown but hold its shape. To get an effect like near-liquid melted mozzarella on pizza or lasagna, I recommend shredding the cheese, melting it in the microwave, and pouring it onto the dish. Then bake until browned and bubbly.Miyoko Schinner's Artisan Vegan Cheese
isn't quite as good a cookbook as NDEC, but I do really like her gruyère recipe; it makes killer fondue and croque monsieur. Schinner's recipes frequently call for rejuvelac, which is made by soaking and fermenting grains. It's very easy to mess up rejuvelac and get a jar full of mold. My usual substitute for 1 cup of rejuvelac is 1 capsule (1/8 tsp.) of vegan probiotic powder in 1 cup filtered water. It's not quite as live-culture-y as rejuvelac but it works well enough.
Cheesemaking does take a bit of time and effort; if you're not up for that, try the many packaged shredded cheese substitutes. Lots of people like tapioca-based Daiya cheeses. My personal favorite packaged vegan mozzarella is Follow Your Heart (the shreds, not the block cheese). But homemade cheese is always the best.
As far as I can tell, there is no such thing as non-nut non-soy vegan cheese. If I were to try to make some, I'd probably make my own rice milk and then try it in a cheese recipe, but I don't know how well it would work without the soy/nut protein.Frozen pizza
My preferred brands are Daiya and Amy's, not least because their pizzas are gluten-free. Udi's pizza crusts are also GF and DF.Pre-sliced sandwich bread
Stroehmann Dutch Country whole wheat bread is my preferred brand, but any brand that's kosher parve will do.Milk powder
If a recipe calls for both milk powder and water, replace the water with your preferred non-dairy milk. I haven't tried powdered non-dairy milk but apparently it exists
I recommend exploring homemade sorbets and granitas before you try tackling homemade non-dairy ice cream. Williams-Sonoma has some good recipes.
A Vitamix blender can also be used to turn frozen fruit into frozen desserts; there are instructions for this in the manual.
Once you're ready to make your own ice cream, check out the recipes in Mark Foy's Desserts of Vitality
. Almost all of them call for lecithin, an emulsifier that's extremely useful for making smooth, creamy ice cream; you can get liquid or granulated lecithin (and many other useful ingredients, especially for cheesemaking) at Modernist Pantry
. Those with soy allergies can look for sunflower lecithin.
For store-bought ice cream, Turtle Mountain brands—Soy Delicious, So Delicious, Purely Delicious, etc.—are consistently excellent. In my experience, all coconut-based vegan ice cream tastes basically like coconut, no matter what else it's supposed to taste like. As a rule I prefer nut-based ice creams over soy-based ice creams, but tastes vary a lot. Try things and see what you like.
What did I miss? Is anything unclear? Ask all the questions you like!
I’ve been feeling for a while now that I ought to post something about GamerGate, but I really didn’t know where to start. I’ve seen all these posts referencing it, but none of them went back and gave me the whole story in a way I could understand. Okay, so it’s something about ethics in game journalism? Except it’s mostly turned into terrifying levels of harassment against women? What’s it actually supposed to be about, though? When we say “ethics in game journalism,” what is that supposed to mean? Why is this such a huge deal? (Sounded like a tempest in a teacup to me.) What’s the signal that got lost beneath the noise? But every time I tried to look it up, all I found was more crap about doxxing and sending death threats and a festering pit of toxic 4chan evil.
Thank you, Jim Hines.
That’s the post I was looking for — and yet not. The post I was looking for because it gives me the whole story in a comprehensible manner, with links; and yet not, because it turns out that foundation I was digging for just. isn’t. there. From the start, it was a harassment campaign against Zoe Quinn (which has snowballed to include a lot of other women), and everything else was a veneer deliberately crafted to recruit unwitting supporters and give the whole thing an aura of legitimacy. I assumed it was an actual thing that went off the rails, as internet stuff so often does. But no: this was always its nature. It was always a vicious, misogynist campaign designed to punish women for having opinions.
It doesn’t matter whether you actually care about ethics in game journalism. Or anywhere else in the game industry. If you want to talk about that, you have to ditch this name, ditch this entire moment, and start over fresh. Because right now? Any attempt to discuss this under the aegis of GamerGate means standing up to be a human shield for the assholes. It means letting them use you. It means giving your support to the actual movement — not the ethical thing, but the misogynist one. And if you do that, you have essentially announced that you don’t give a flying rat fuck about ethics, whereupon there is no reason that anybody other than fellow sewer-dwellers ought to listen to you.
It doesn’t matter what your intentions are. There is no redeeming GamerGate. You join them, or you step away: those are your two options.
That’s the actual story.
Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.
For anyone who doesn’t know, the seeds of the GamerGate movement began when game developer Zoe Quinn’s former boyfriend wrote a blog post accusing her of cheating on him, and of generally being “an unbelievable jerk,” which led to a campaign of harassment against Quinn. Quinn’s ex- alleged that one of the people Quinn had slept with was journalist Nathan Grayson, and that this led to a brief mention of one of Quinn’s games in an article that was published before the alleged relationship ever started.
Because GamerGate is all is about ethics in journalism. And also time travel, apparently.
The movement began its crusade for stronger ethics in journalism with such rallying cries as, “Next time she shows up at a conference we … give her a crippling injury that’s never going to fully heal … a good solid injury to the knees. I’d say a brain damage, but we don’t want to make it so she ends up too retarded to fear us.” People who spoke out in support of Quinn were attacked as well, and their personal information published online.
All right, fine. So this all started with a whiny man-child’s temper tantrum about his failed relationship. But then it evolved into a Very Serious Conversation about ethics in journal–
Actually, what happened next were death threats and other harassment against Anita Sarkeesian.
But that was all before Adam Baldwin coined the term “GamerGate”! Just because the not-yet-officially-named movement was born in the muck and slime doesn’t mean Baldwin couldn’t turn things around and lead the newly-baptized group into a more Productive and Important Discussion of ethics in–
Wait, no. Baldwin coined the term in order to spread the attack on Zoe Quinn. Sorry, my bad.
But soon women and minorities joined the #GamerGate boat, coining the new hash tag #NotYourShield to protest those who were focusing on harassment instead of ethics in journalism. Apparently a small minority of Angry Feminists™ and Social Justice Warriors were using GamerGate as an excuse to push their own agenda. But ethics affect everyone, and #NotYourShield clearly showed that most women and minorities weren’t upset about–
Whoops. Turns out #NotYourShield was born and raised over in 4chan, using sockpuppet accounts and such.
Well, I’m sure GamerGate soon turned their attentions fully to the issues of ethics–
I mean, after they got done sending death threats to game developer Brianna Wu, driving her and her husband from their home, presumably as ethical punishment for the crimes of Mocking GamerGate and Gaming While Female.
All that aside though, the core of the movement is to reduce the nepotism in gaming journalism, which game designer David Hill notes “was essentially coopted as a marketing arm for certain AAA publishers.” Aha! And now we see GamerGate finally focusing on its core mission to fix ethics in–
Oh … Hill goes on to note that GamerGate looks like “some strange bizarro world” where the people being targeted and attacked have nothing to do with the larger problem of ethics in journalism.
But the people making threats aren’t really with GamerGate. They’re all sockpuppets, and also, Wu and Quinn and everyone else have been posting threats against themselves to discredit the movement. Because we all know women lie, right? And the best way to criticize a group you don’t like is … um … by posting your own home address on the internet? I guess? So where were we. Ah yes, ethics in–
And now Felicia Day gets harassed and doxxed for expressing her concerns about GamerGate.
But the sidebar in the Reddit GamerGate group clearly says “No doxxing,” so it couldn’t have been anyone from GamerGate. Lots of GamerGate people are speaking out about how the harassment and doxxing has to stop because
it’s awful, unacceptable, hateful behavior it makes GG look bad.
And maybe it wasn’t an official GamerGater. Because at this point, the top Reddit post in the GamerGate discussion also says, “Stop identifying as ‘#GamerGaters.’ You’re Gamers first, Consumers second.”
Problem solved! If nobody is identifying as GamerGaters, then obviously GamerGate isn’t harassing anyone.
Look, from reading through some of the boards, it’s clear there are people involved with GamerGate because they genuinely care about the problems in gaming journalism. And it sounds like there are legitimate concerns there, and things that need to be challenged and addressed. But there are an awful lot of people who jumped on the GamerGate bandwagon because it was an opportunity to troll and harass and attack women in gaming. Who view “Ethics in Journalism” as synonymous with “The Evil Social Justice Warriors are coming to Ruin All the Things!!!”
Sexism and harassment in gaming? That’s a legitimate and real concern too. And the GamerGate movement was born from it. Maybe it’s grown into a hydra with one head that truly just cares about ethics while another head is all about harassing women, and a third head is just mad at social justice warriors, but no matter how many heads GamerGate has sprouted, it only has one ass, and it’s been dropping an awful lot of particularly noxious crap for months now.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
Ten years ago today, shadesong
and I said our vows as the sun set in Arizona
. Since then we've moved, changed jobs, dealt with all sorts of "fun" medical issues, sent a kid to college, and more. And through it all, she's been my partner and best friend, and one of the best damned things to happen to me.
We celebrated with a obscene meal at our favorite restaurant
last night (because Jewish holidays begin the night before, of course. And because it was easier to get a reservation on Thursday). Taking the day off work to spend more time together, with a show tonight.
We agreed last night that we're totally up for another ten years (and more). <3
New best friend: M-Audio SP-2 Sustain Pedal for my keyboard (a Casio Privia). It's wonderful
, although I agree with the Amazon reviewer that you should take note of its dimensions if you have your keyboard in a tight spot (which I do not). Anyway, it's a pleasure to have a pedal at all, and especially one so nice after the cheap crappy one that my keyboard originally came with (and which is now AWOL). I have so far tested it out with a bunch of pieces, including the piano piece I composed for Marie Brennan's London historical fantasies, and which I had gotten out of practice on because it sounds wrong
without the pedal.
- recent reading
Sam Leith. Words Like Loaded Pistols: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama
. Beyond the clever cover
[Amazon listing], this is a terrifically fun book to read when you're sick. I have no useful background in formal rhetoric or its history, so I can't assess that aspect of the book, but what this has is an overview of the art and its uses as well as a number of case studies. It's clever, funny, well-written, and reminds me that I used to enjoy rolling around in language for its own sake.
For the curious, the case studies are: Satan (mostly through Milton), Marcus Tullius Cicero (it was eerie recognizing translated passages that I had seen in Wheelock exercises--I almost feel bad for Catiline at this point), Abraham Lincoln, Hitler, Churchill, Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, and an interesting section on The Unknown Speechwriter where Leith brings out Peggy Noonan, Reagan's speechwriter, as an example. There are other examples throughout, including one from (!) a South Park
movie. Make of that what you will.
- recent viewingThe Good Wife
through "Shiny Objects." ( Read more... )
Last month I took a few days off to visit my cousin Brian in Ontario. He's still farming there, not far from where my great-great-grandfather obtained a land grant from the Crown in 1870. Our goal was to visit a bunch of little cemeteries scattered around northern Kent and southern Lambton counties, where various relatives have gone to their final rest.
Ever since I got back, I've been cataloging (or is that catalogueing, this being a Canadian tale?) pictures of headstones and trying to fit this myriad of names into my family history database. Holy Hannah, there are a lot of them. My ancestors took the Biblical injunction to be fruitful and multiply quite seriously. As did all their children, and grandchildren, etc... even unto the nth generation.
When I tell people that I'm the oldest of nine, they tend to assume it's because of my Irish Catholic mother. But really? My dad's people could hold their own when it came to the propagation of the race. Dad was the oldest of six. His dad was the fifth of nine. Great-granddad was second of nine. Great-great-granddad was second of eight. Great-great-great-granddad was the third of a mere five.
Interestingly enough, none of my siblings has more than three. Thanks be for modern family planning.
Two magnificent babies were born to friends of mine on Monday this week. I'm delighted, because they have both been born to fabulous people, and a little worried, because both families are dealing with the anxious tedium of postnatal hospital stuff.
But BABIES yay I do like babies.
A while back my husband and I got into a conversation about the iconic writers of different eras — the people where, if you can remember a single person who wrote in that time period, they’re the one you think of. Chaucer. Shakespeare. Austen. Dickens.
This led, of course, to us debating who from the current era might be That Writer two hundred years from now. It’s a mug’s game, of course, trying to predict who’s going to last; the field of literature is littered with names who were expected to be classics for the ages, many of whom are now utterly forgotten. But a mug’s game can still be fun to play, especially when you’re making idle conversation over dinner.
The way I see it, the author in question is likely to exhibit some combination of four qualities:
- They’re popular (though not necessarily critically acclaimed just yet),
- They’re at least moderately prolific (no one-book wonders here),
- They’re working in a genre/medium/field that is especially characteristic of their era, and
- Their work reflects the social issues of their time.
(Notice I say nothing about quality in there. I do think that quality matters, but I also think our ability to judge what qualifies as quality, from the perspective of later generations, is deeply suspect.)
I said to my husband that I fully expect the writer of our age — defining “our age” as the late twentieth to early twenty-first century — to be someone in the field of speculative fiction, i.e. science fiction, fantasy, and/or supernatural horror. There has undeniably been a boom in that mode of storytelling in the last few decades; I suspect that, as a result, those works may be remembered for longer than many of the quietly mimetic tales of literary fiction. (In fact, if I’m being honest with myself, I suspect that the Writer of Our Age is more likely to be a movie director — Spielberg’s a good candidate — than anybody in prose fiction.)
Popular, prolific, working in spec fic, reflecting the social issues of our era . . . .
My money’s on Stephen King.
He’s already acquired a veneer of respectability that he sure as hell didn’t have a couple of decades ago. His works are being taught in college courses. He caters — I mean the word in a non-derogatory sense — to a broad audience, and generally writes about very ordinary blue-collar types, in a way that can be read as social commentary, whether it was intended as such or not. There are other authors who may be remembered, as much for their impact on the field as on their works (J.K. Rowling for the YA boom, George R.R. Martin for being the most famous epic fantasist since Tolkien, etc), but I don’t expect their work to be read much outside of specialized circles a hundred years from now. They’re probably the Christopher Marlowes of our era, doing some pioneering work, but generally only read by people who are exploring that genre in greater depth.
I’m curious whether other people agree with my assessment, though. Are there other authors you think are more likely to be remembered in the long term? If so, who and why?
Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.
Cancer. I had her euthanized around noon.
She came from the exgf's parents back yard from the same mother as Hagia, Zeus and Groucho. Like them, she had very particular views on life and who she would associate with. Unlike every other feral I have dealt with, she became habituated but never tame. Instead she had her sleeping place in the hall closet, and a blind in my office where she could stare at me suspiciously from cover. I was allowed to feed her.
This is her, trying to set me on fire with her mind:
Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.
I cried through most of my next therapy appointment. That isn’t as bad as it sounds. They were basically tears of relief. Even though Ziggy and I hadn’t really resolved anything, somehow, my heart still felt better about everything. Some kind of weight had been lifted. Or something.
It’s my inability to make a good explanation of what I felt–or why–that leads to those obscure songs with lots of oblique references to poetic visuals. The ones that, when you hear them on the radio in your car, that one time you finally figure out the words make you say, what the hell is this song about?
( Read the rest of this entry » )
Share something positive in the comments. This is an open thread for any and all good news, because it feels like the world could use more of it these days.
For myself, I got a promotion at the day job a few weeks back, which was pretty cool. Also, our new cat Sophie is about to have her kittens. That should be a lot of fun, both because Kittens! and because my kids are really excited, and I get to enjoy their reactions as well. Finally, I’ve seen the final sketches for the Rise of the Spider Goddess cover art, and it is Nifty.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
I am about 70 pages from the end of The Almanac of the Dead. Be back soon.
Inks that I have used in working on RG
on a notebook with Tomoe River paper:
Noodler's Black, Platinum Preppy F
J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey, Waterman 52V
Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki, azure pearl Parker Vacumatic
Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-ro, Reform 1745
Papier Plume Burgundy, Webster Four-Star
I need to ink something up with Montblanc Alfred Hitchcock so I can add that to the mix.
Had I been less efficient about the book-related post the other day, I could have bundled this into it — but that’s just as well, because I think some things deserve their own posts.
HUGE congratulations to my friend Alyc Helms, who has just announced the sale of her first novel! I won’t go into the full saga of this book — Alyc herself does that quite well in the post — but I will say that I have the same kind of warm glow right now that I did when Mike Underwood sold his first book, only even more so. As she says over there, the two of us met on an archaeological dig in Wales, when I was writing Doppelganger. That Changeling game she ran to amuse us in the evenings? Led to me playing in the Changeling LARP in Bloomington, which led to me running Memento, which led to the Onyx Court series. (It may also lead to more fiction, if I end up rebuilding Ree’s story to become its own thing: Ree is the character I made for that game at the dig.) Alyc read the first draft of what eventually became Lies and Prophecy; she’s one of about four people in the world who can say that, and her enthusiasm over the years is part of what encouraged me keep working on that one. She has read more terrible drafts of my books than probably anybody, since I have a habit of flinging them at her when I get stuck and wailing “hellllllllllp, I can’t make it go.” So to have been around (and apparently useful) while she made her own journey from picking up a pen again to this kind of professional victory? Feels awesome.
Oh, and the book itself is pretty awesome, too. I’ll say more about it when it’s closer to the pub date, because there isn’t all that much use in raving about something you won’t be able to read until next year. But never fear! Raving is inevitable!
Congratulations to her once again, and I can’t wait to have The Dragons of Heaven on my shelves.
Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.
1. I wrote 10 pages of pure crack on RG (#3 in hexarchate trilogy, I'm like 3/4 done now, saving the partial for NaNoWriMo while my brain composts a little more). I have been writing in: Noodler's Black, Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki (blue), Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-ro (green), Papier Plume Burgundy, and J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey because I am determined that if I am going to go down in history as writing cracky space opera that no one will ever read, I WILL DO IT WITH MY LITTLE PONY BLOOD.
It is so much more of a relief to write PURE CRACK on this novel than worry about it being good. It's a rough draft! It's not going to be good whatever I do! Also, not like anyone cares whether #3 is good or not at this point! Problem for another time! GEKIGANGER ID ATTACK!
(Apologies to any Martian Successor Nadesico fans. We should rewatch that sometime. Sheesh, the memories...)
2. My local library continues to be excellent. I'm currently reading a fun and irreverent book on rhetoric, a topic that, formally anyway, I know nothing about. I also checked out a book on deception in warfare and another on wargaming. Look, if I don't do this kind of thing once in a while they'll take away my Yoon card!
3. I ordered fox ears and tail for the lizard for her Halloween costume, at her request. I briefly considered making them myself, then decided that nah, this is what Etsy is for. Someone else makes money, I get to be lazy, the lizard gets to be a fox. EVERYONE WINS.
4. My mother has been emailing me beautiful iPad photos of flowers and trees in Korea. I miss the foliage and wildflowers in Korea so much, and my mother has a lifelong interest in botany so she would always tell me what everything was (and of course I would always instantly forget all the names except for the really common ones like cosmos and gingko and so on). Also, I had no idea that Hangeul permitted so many cute little emoticons...or I don't know if those are Hangeul emoticons specifically, but hey.
5. I made probably not that authentic chicken adobo last night. (I use vinegar and soy sauce, but no spicy peppers of any kind because the lizard will not eat spicy food.) It was delicious and there are leftovers that I will probably avail myself of tomorrow.
6. Hellsing Ultimate is perfect crack for, uh, after the lizard has gone to bed. OMG so over-the-top lolarious splatter. To say nothing of a world apparently so dystopian that I honestly think that the only way you could save people is to torch the whole place and start over. Because, please, therapists are not going to save Sir Integra, Alucard, or Father Anderson. (Although someone should write me the crackfic where they try.) We've watched through ep. 7 so please don't spoil us!
...what are your happy things, if you want to share? =)
- recent readingAmulet
vols. 1-6 by Kazu Kibuishi. Not yet complete, and I seem to have not read vol. 5 earlier as well as just getting to read vol. 6. This is an excellent comic series about a girl, Emily, who becomes the keeper of an ambiguously helpful magical amulet and is drawn into a science fantasy world along with her younger brother Navin and her mother. It has vibrant, spectacular art depicting a lush and alien world with creatures both cute and creepy, fascinating plot twists, great action, and genuinely gray characters. Considering that the prologue features Emily and Navin's dad dying in a car accident, it is not afraid to go to scary and dark places, but overall it's probably PG or PG-13. Joe loves this, the lizard loves this, I love this. I cannot recommend this highly enough.Nabi: The Prototype
by Kim Yeon-joo. Collection of shorts. My impression is mostly, pretty art but pretty damn incoherent stories except the first one; I don't know whether this is an artifact of the translation or the manhwa artist is just not very good at communication. And what plot there is tends to be "blah blah blah feelings feelings feelings, FEELINGS, feelings feelings, because FEELINGS," which is...not my kind of thing. I have the complete manhwa in Korean as well; I may try muddling through that next, although I don't actually expect to understand
the Hangeul. But hey, pretty art, so worth keeping for that.
- recent viewingHellsing Ultimate
eps. 2-3. ( Read more... )
I first “met” Lesley Smith a year and a half ago, while looking for beta readers for a short story. Lesley is also an author herself. Her book The Changing of the Sun came out this month, and she’s currently working on a Kickstarter for the second book in the series, The Parting of the Waters.
Her guest post is about disability in fiction, and about her own choices along those lines as a writer.
One of the great maxims told to newbie writers is ‘write what you know’. I’m never sure if that’s true, but it’s a good a place to start as any. To understand my writing, you need to know that I was born with a visual impairment caused from wanting to get into the world at twenty four weeks, rather than the usual forty. Too much oxygen left me with brain damage, Asperger’s and, most obviously, a visual disability. I’m blind in one eye and so short sighted in my left that I’m functionally useless outside without a long cane or my beloved guide dog, Unis.
When I started writing The Changing of the Sun, I’d just finished Camp NaNoWriMo and was itching to write anything but the project I’d put aside at fifty thousand words: an urban scifi about an alien priestess trying to solve a murder while an engineered plague began decimating London’s alien community.
I realised I couldn’t write this story before I’d set up the one which forged my protagonist, or at least her past selves and her civilisation. I knew the basics: an alien world devastated by a solar storm, an order of blind seers who ruled in wisdom and passed the mantle down through centuries, and great adversity tempered by common sense and the desire to survive the impossible. I started writing and the short story became a novella, then a proper novel. Just over a year and a Kickstarter later, I’ve just unleashed that novel on the world.
Key to the universe in which the Changing trilogy is set is disabled characters being more than just set pieces. There might be miracles, but curing disabilities isn’t one of them. Yes, the oracles have lost their vision, but like Odin and Tiresias, they’ve gained something in exchange. However, this doesn’t mean an easy ride. Far from it. Having a disability doesn’t give you an instant pass and the people aren’t there to be inspirational … they’re just trying to get through the day.
For example, the stereotype of a blind person is that they are a) totally blind and b) have heightened senses. This is rubbish. All is means is that most blind people have some useful vision and that we pay more attention; I have better hearing than you simply because I don’t have as much visual noise that prevents me focusing.
Saiara, the POV character, is blinded as part of a ritual gone wrong. She finds herself banished to a shabby tower where the blind oracles are kept locked away, too close to the divine to be allowed near the populace except on the high holy days. The powers don’t want them to be self-reliant or capable of surviving without servants, guards and being beholden to the High Chamberlain’s ‘compassion’. There’s the elderly Eirian, the former ruler of the planet, who is coming to the end of her life, and is just trying to keep their collapsing ordering intact so someone is left to lead even as she goes to her grave. She tries to teach every woman in her care how to go beyond their blindness, to find their way, to use their other senses, to regain power in a place which would rather they be powerless.
Back when I was writing Changing, I read an excellent post on this very blog and it made me decide that if there was one rule I was going to stick to, it was that if you lost a limb, nothing could restore it to you. You might lose your vision and gain the grace of knowledge, but you’d still be blind, still be lost in a world not designed to help you or make allowances for your disability. This makes the idea of an exodus north, though the desert with limited supplies and the thinning ranks of a sacred order of blind women, much more complicated.
One of the biggest scenes involves Jeiana, one of these alien beings incarnated as a Kashinai woman, having her writing hand amputated after a tiny scratch turns septic. She’s borrowed the body of a woman who drowned at the beginning of the book and has been slowly losing her sense of self, almost like a kind of dementia. When she collapses, her lover, the healer Senara, has to make the decision between Jeiana’s life and the infected limb.
The problem is, because Jeiana is slowly forgetting who she is, a side-effect of her corporeal state, she has been trying to write down all the secrets she has brought with her from beyond their little world. Losing her hand means she can’t record the words for posterity, and there comes a point where the fate of an entire planet relies on Senna’s decision. While Jeiana eventually gains an amanuensis, she is never able to write, and the loss of her hand forces her to have to relearn how to walk, how to move and live with a limb which stops just above her elbow, suffering phantom pain from the amputated limb that she doesn’t really remember losing.
I wanted to have empowered characters who accurately reflected my own view of the world. Jeiana, Saiara, Eirian, Lyse and the others are not there to be pitied. They might not always know the answers or have an easy ride but they’re stronger for every trial. They are not there to be tokens or to make up the numbers but to reflect that just as the world is full of people with disabilities, so alien worlds should have their share of differently abled individuals.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
In the order that they occur to me:
1) Michael R. Underwood’s The Younger Gods is out! Main character is a runaway from a family of evil cultists, has to try to stop them from kicking off the apocalypse. Mike is a friend, of course, but this one would sound good to me even if I weren’t biased.
2) I’m starting to rack up some foreign sales for the Memoirs. So far it looks like you’ll be getting at least the first book in Thai, French, and Polish. I’m on the verge of completely outgrowing my brag shelf, where I keep one copy of every edition of my books: there are worse problems to have.
3) Speaking of my brag shelf, the Mythic Delirium anthology is also out! This has “The Wives of Paris” in it, among other things. You may recall this anthology as the one that got the excellent starred review from Publishers Weekly; well, now you can own your very own copy.
4) Strange Horizons is currently holding its annual fund drive. There are prizes listed here, but it isn’t the full list yet; they’re adding stuff as the drive goes on. Two of the additions will be a signed pair of the UK trade paperbacks of A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, and a signed ARC of the third book in the Memoirs of Lady Trent, Voyage of the Basilisk. If you want a crack at those, head on over and pledge some money!
5) I’ve got another ebook coming out next week, this one a collection of my dark fairy-tale retellings called Monstrous Beauty. You can pre-order it right now from Amazon or Kobo, or wait until next week and get it from Book View Cafe, Barnes and Noble, or iTunes. Just in time for Halloween!
Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.
The skin thing is shingles, and the antivirals make me incredibly sleepy. I've spent two days in bed with the children hanging around my room when they want to and refusing to come near when they don't. I feel rotten.
And of course I haven't posted my GP letter since because I haven't left the blasted house. Even though I both printed and signed it.
The good news is that Emer is listening to Stephen Fry's Harry Potter audiobooks and enjoying them hugely.