jazzfish: A cartoon guy with his hands in the air saying "Woot." (Woot.)
I did that twenty-one-question list that's going around a few years back, during 2011's Three Weeks for Dreamwidth, so there's that.



I don't much care for weddings in general. I went to several in the first few years of the millennium. Each one made me more and more convinced that this wasn't a ritual I wanted anything to do with. Ours was about as low-key as possible while still involving other people, and I more or less expected that it would be the last one I would have to go to.

However. I like Ederlyn quite a lot, and she did bother to show up for our wedding (as the officiant, no less). I figured if she was going to go to the trouble of sending out invites months in advance, I could clean up a bit and make it down to wherever she was going to be.

Traffic down was ugly. The wedding took place in Long Beach WA, slightly closer to Portland than to Seattle. We hit Seattle rush-hour traffic (an hour to go ten miles, at one point), plus random slowdowns outside of Tacoma and Olympia, and then got stuck behind slow RVs on the two-lane state highway that ran for the last hour and a half of the drive. I fell over in the hotel once we got there and did not go out to be sociable on the beach.

I also didn't go out to be sociable on the beach because it was chilly and I didn't have a coat. I'd meant to have my not-very-formal blazer as part of my semi-fancy wedding clothes, but due to various low-grade stresses on the morning of, we managed to leave said semi-fancy wedding clothes draped over a kitchen chair. At least I got out of the house with my nice boots. And it wasn't a terribly formal affair in any case, and the next day I scraped up a halfway decent shirt and pair of slacks.

The hotel itself seemed to be half genuinely run-down beach hotel, and half catering to vacationing ironic-techies looking for the run-down beach hotel experience. Bare Edison bulbs everywhere, and uncarpeted floors, and murals painted directly on the walls. Also I think the mattress was a foam deal that may have been rather nice when it was new but had developed a clear slope to the sides.

The next day [personal profile] uilos and I wandered around the little beach town. We had decent roadside burritos and way too much ice cream. She bought a kite that's really a string of six diamond kites, and we walked back along the beach while she flew it/them.

And then it was wedding-time, and a few dozen of us sat in folding chairs on a beautiful windy cloudy beach and watched two very happy people share a public commitment. It was nearly nice enough to make me rethink my policy on weddings.

There followed a pleasant dinner, which I spent much of catching up with the WhaleHawk (Dr [livejournal.com profile] fuzzyamy, who I've not seen in longer than I can recall, and her partner, who I'd not met) and rather less with [personal profile] plumbob78 and Ashok and a few other people, and oh yeah incidentally the bride and groom on occasion. Talking with Amy wasn't quite the easy friendship that you get with people you know well and haven't seen in years... but it was close, and it was fun, and I hold out some hope that her prediction of "well, this is likely the last time we'll run into each other" won't come true. (To some extent I'm flooding DW/LJ this week in direct response to that conversation. I got to know Amy, and Ed for that matter, during Livejournal's heyday, and recapturing that sense of presence and intimacy would be nice.) (And yes, I'm aware that I'm part of the problem. I'm trying to comment more often on other people's stuff! For whatever reason that comes much less naturally to me.)

There was also dancing, in which I was fully intending to not participate, but what can you do when the first song is Shut Up And Dance?

The next day we got up and came home. We hit traffic outside of Tacoma again for no reason, but we stopped off and got Popeyes fried chicken for lunch (and dinner, and dinner the next day...), which was well worth it.

So, congratulations and best wishes to Ed and Geoff! I'm glad that I got to be a small part of your big day.
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
Things.

What are you currently reading?

Rereading Walter Jon Williams's City On Fire, because I got a craving to reread it. Well, actually to reread Metropolitan, but why stop there. CoF is still excellent (as is Metropolitan).

What did you recently finish reading?

Metropolitan, naturally. That's three reads in, mm, three years, which feels simply decadent. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Before that, Watership Down, for no reason other than that I can't remember the last time I'd read it. Still quite good, still The Aeneid With Bunnies. My main complaint is that it's got too many characters, to be honest; several of the rabbits from Sandleford all blur together, and even the Efrafans aren't as well distinguished as they might be.

Oh, and another story from Lucius Shepherd's The Dragon Griaule, a cycle of corrupt, oppressive fantasy stories. They're good, don't get me wrong; I just can only read so much at once.

What do you think you'll read next?

Something new, I think; it's been mostly rereads and retreads for awhile.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Blergh day.

What are you currently reading?

Not a damned thing. It's an odd feeling.

What did you recently finish reading?

In the last month or so...

Foucault's Pendulum, by Umberto Eco. First reread in at least a decade. I believe I first read this book in late high school. It's one of those where I keep getting more out of it every time I read it.

The Merchant Princes (trilogy), by Charles Stross. As noted earlier, worldwalking economic/political thrillers. Good stuff; possibly my favorite of Charlie's work. They were perfect for a vacation read.

Ash: A Secret History, by Mary Gentle. It's... interesting. I keep mentally comparing it to The Dragon Waiting, the only other late-15th-century alternate-history I've read, which isn't fair at all. (Though now I wonder where Lost Burgundy is in the world of TDW. *checks Draco Concordans* Of course, Burgundy is the westernmost province of the Empire, and it's ruled by Dimi's father Cosmas. No remnants of Charles Temeraire here, alas.) Vicious and brutish and sometimes unexpectedly kind, and reasonably action-packed. At times I grew bored with the Ash bits and wanted to hurry up and get back to the weird present-day stuff. Worth reading, possibly worth rereading.

I am not entirely sure I like Mary Gentle's work. I loved loved loved Golden Witchbreed, hated Ancient Light an equal and opposite amount, and was mostly bored by Ilario. She writes well, just... at oblique angles to my preferences, I think.

What do you think you'll read next?

Maybe a reread of the Steerswoman books. Maybe something off the official To Be Read Shelf. Maybe Susan Palwick's Mending the Moon.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
This week I've rediscovered what 'hiding' feels like.

Hence, books!

What are you currently reading?

The Citadel of the Autarch, by Gene Wolfe.

What did you recently finish reading?

In what I'm sure will be no surprise to anyone, the first three volumes of the Book of the New Sun. As noted elseweb, it feels like my brain is being force-grown. I tried to read these ages ago and bounced off them, and then read them through for the first time while I was still at Waldenbooks, and haven't read them since. But after determining that Robert Graves is bad for my blood pressure, Northrop Frye is brilliant but hard to focus on (I can't read literary theory for fun all the time), and Jim Hines's Princess books are too lightweight even when they're trying to tackle heavy subjects[1], I needed something with narrative that would fry my brain. Hence, Wolfe.

[1] This is not a condemnation of the Princess books! They're a very good example of what they are. That's just not at all what I need right now.

What do you think you'll read next?

I bet you think the answer is The Urth of the New Sun, don't you? WRONG! I'm going to dig up the handful of New Sun short stories out of my Wolfe collections and then reread Castle of the Otter, before diving into Urth. I'm a little skeptical of Urth anyway. I seem to recall it being kind of a slog.

(ISDFB, in its listing of the complete Solar Cycle, gives two stories from Endangered Species, 'The Cat' and 'The Map,' plus 'Empires of Foliage and Flower' which I'd already known about but didn't have access to on my first reading. Oddly, ISFDB doesn't list 'The Night Chough,' a Long Sun story about Oreb the raven that was first published in a Crow anthology.)
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
What are you currently reading?

Ha. I was reading Robert Graves's poetic treatise The White Goddess, but I got about five chapters in and gave up.

In the National Portrait Gallery in the Smithsonian, there's a giant sculpture made of cardboard covered in tinfoil. I say 'sculpture' rather than anything more descriptive because I'm not sure how to describe it. The placard in front of it says that it was the life work of a guy in his garage, and he kept adding to it and adding to it, and adding esoteric symbology and more tinfoil, for decades.

And I look at it, and I am simultaneously overwhelmed by the sheer amount of effort that went into it and the coherence of its creator's vision in putting all these disparate elements together, and made somewhat uncomfortable by the knowledge that this was some guy's lifework, and it's made of tinfoil-covered cardboard.

This is roughly the sensation I have after five chapters of The White Goddess. It is the work of a crackpot who has constructed an amazing edifice out of cardboard and wrapped it in tinfoil, and just keeps on building it up.

Graves's central argument, as I understand it, is that 1) poetry has become debased from its proper Theme; 2) that Theme is romantic relations between men and women, as a reflection of a celebration of the Goddess; 3) worship of the Goddess and matriarchal society was once widespread throughout all of Europe but has been supplanted by a patriarchal society & religion. In support of point 3 he suggests that the Celts were originally Greek, using scant (and bad) archaeological evidence and linguistic coincidences to make this argument.

The first several chapters are an analysis of the Cad Goddeu, an enigmatic and fragmentary twelfth-century Welsh poem. He claims that the poem is about the struggle between the forces of the Goddess and the God, and furthermore that it encodes a poetic alphabet, with references to Greek, Jewish, Christian, and Celtic myths (and likely more that I'm forgetting).

As a scholarly work it is just plain Bad, but I knew that going in. I was hoping for it to be at least entertainingly Bad, but it's dry and dull and left me shaking my head in dismay at his leaps of logic rather than in wonder at the connections he'd forged (in either sense).

I am told Graves wrote a novel, Seven Days In New Crete / Watch The North Wind Rise, based around these themes. I might find that more palatable.

What did you recently finish reading?

Stephen R. Lawhead's Pendragon trilogy (Taliesin, Merlin, Arthur). I had a fondness for these growing up: they're the Arthur legend, steeped in Celtic myth. They ... have not aged well. Or I haven't. The Atlantis bits of Taliesin remain compelling, perhaps because Lawhead had to come up with his own story and didn't feel constrained by the existing material. The rest feels like he's trying to cram in as much as he can from his primary sources. Characters are frequently either brought on with no fanfare (Vortigern), disappear without so much as a wave (Arthur's half-sibling, the Fisher King's wife), or have no motivation (Morgian). I cannot help but feel that there's a really cool story in there somewhere, but it would take far more than three books to tell.

I've also read #VPXV classmate Phoebe North's debut novel Starglass, a young-adult Jewish generation-ship novel, which was quite good despite its rather abrupt ending.

What do you think you'll read next?

I may pick up Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, on account of having seen the (Bogart/Bacall) movie on Sunday night and being completely in love with the dialogue. ("You just stood there and let them work me over?" "When a man's playing a hand, I let him play it out. I'm no kibitzer.")

Or I may finally get around to reading Northrop Frye's Anatomy of Criticism, to wash the taste of The White Goddess from my mind.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
What are you currently reading?

I've finally gotten into Studs Terkel's Hope Dies Last, a gift from my aunt Susan a decade ago. I'm also carting around the RPG Nova Praxis, a FATE-based post-singularity RPG, in the hopes that its version of FATE will finally click for me.

What did you recently finish reading?

Pat Cadigan's Synners, a 1991 cyberpunk novel that feels like it exists at the intersection of Neuromancer, City Come A-Walkin', and The Fortunate Fall.

Samuel R. Delany's Nova, a late-sixties SF adventure that's also a commentary on adventure narratives, among other things.

John M. Ford's magnum opus The Dragon Waiting, which gets better every time I read it. This time it was in tandem with Draco Concordans on my phone.

(All three were excellent.)

What do you think you'll read next?

Who knows. Depends entirely on my mood and general level of brain.
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
What are you currently reading?

The Price of Spring, the fourth of Daniel Abraham's Long Price quartet.

What did you recently finish reading?

Well, the first three of the Daniel Abraham quartet. These are fantasy novels that each take place fifteen years apart, which is kinda cool: you get to see the effects of some choices made in the first few books as the series goes on. There's magic, of a sort; there's a nation that has no magic and is slowly industrializing; there are very few wars apart from the third book and no Saving The World at all. Since you're mostly following two major characters you also get a wide variety of age perspectives. On the other hand, it has a very 1980s feel at times. There are no gay people at all, which in a large-canvas 21st-century fantasy series nags at me like a missing tooth, and women's roles are better than the average 1980s fantasy novel but only slightly. (Also, the cultural setup necessary for the Cunning Abortion Plot in the first book still sets my teeth on edge.) (No, that's not a spoiler, the plot's laid out for you in the first quarter of the book.) Still recommended, I think, but not strongly so.

I've also read the rules to 18OE, because what I really need is another giant game I will never get to play.

What do you think you'll read next?

I don't even know. Thinking about digging back into The Dragon Waiting, because it's never a bad time for JMF.
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
Home, finally, and more or less adjusted to Pacific time. More later.

What are you currently reading?

M.J. Locke's Up Against It, hard SF set on an asteroid mining colony. It's got thrills, disasters, nanobots, a feral AI, and it got shortlisted for the Tiptree. Seriously, why is no one else talking about this? It's quite good. I suppose it's got a very small chance of wandering off into "God did it" territory; if that happens I shall be extremely disappointed. (Update some hours later: luckily, no.)

Also, I have a bookmark about 2/3 through Daniel Abraham's A Shadow In Summer.

What did you recently finish reading?

Adam Rex's hilarious The True Meaning of Smekday. As I said to the bookseller, I can't remember if several friends have recommended this, or if [personal profile] jadelennox has just been effusive enough for three people. Regardless, it's a fine light YA romp with a fantastic heroine and a genuinely funny alien. The illustrations are first-rate too.

Chohei Kambayashi's Yukikaze, a novel about a withdrawn reserved sociopathic isolated recon fighter pilot in a war against an enemy no one has ever seen. It's doing interesting things with 'being human,' which is just about enough to make up for the occasionally awkward prose and storytelling, and the fact that it reads like a collection of short stories (which I don't believe it was). Worth reading, I think, and I think I'll be looking for the sequel (and the third, if and when it comes out in English).

What do you think you'll read next?

The rest of Abraham's Long Price Quartet, unless something else exciting comes up or I end up hating them.

moar books

May. 1st, 2013 09:25 pm
jazzfish: Barnaby from "Bone," text "Stupid, stupid rat meme!" (Rat Meme)
What are you reading?

Mm. I'm sort of in the midst of a Tom Stoppard collection. Reread 'The Real Inspector Hound' and 'After Magritte' last week. Undecided whether I'm going to continue on: Stoppard is wonderfully clever but not exactly what I'm looking for. Not that I'm sure what that is at the moment, so.

What did you recently finish reading?

Martha Wells's Books of the Raksura, which have a wildly different feel to them from anything I've read in ages. It's ... most of the fantasies I've read recently contain magic, because that's sort of a major trope. Wizards and spells and magical engineers and all that, all harnessing magic to their own ends. Ultimately the magic feels almost like an intrusion, like, I don't know, nuclear power or something. An add-on. In these, the magic infuses literally everything. The titular Raksura are flying shapeshifters, and there's a group of deeply sociopathic all-devouring shapeshifters called the Fell; there are flying islands for no reason other than that there are flying islands; strange creatures are the norm rather than the exception.

And they're books about finding a home, and learning to trust, and they have some mild yet cutting gender commentary in the background. Good stuff.

What do you think you'll read next?

I have no idea. Possibilities include Martha Wells's City of Bones, John M. Ford's Princes of the Air, Ken MacLeod's space opera, and who knows what else. If the first Daniel Abraham book gets here soon, then it'll likely be those.
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
The last two weeks have seen my largest book-acquiring binge since the Tysons Corner Borders closed. Unsurprisingly, we're now entirely out of credit at the two used bookstores in Bellingham.

BOOKS ACQUIRED:
  • Two gifts (one Chihuly book for Mrs F, one [REDACTED])
  • One Stoppard play (Night and Day)
  • One paperback with Roger Zelazny's name slapped on the cover (Chronomancer by Jane Lindskold, the novelisation of a decent mid-nineties point-and-click adventure game with worldbuilding by Roger)
  • Two first-two-of-a-trilogy (Martha Wells's Books of the Raksura on repeated plugs by [personal profile] thanate plus a vague recollection that City of Bones was pretty good; and Ken MacLeod's Engines of Light because we had spare credit at one bookstore and his name sounds familiar)
  • One last-three-of-a-tetrology (the previously mentioned Long Price Quartet, because I seem to have become interested in closed series books again)
  • One second-of-a-trilogy (eBear's Shattered Pillars)
  • One third-of-a-trilogy (WJW's Conventions of War, and seriously, Chapters, would it have been so hard to ship the second one at the same time?)

BOOKS STILL REQUIRED:
  • Martha Wells, The Siren Depths (dependent of course on liking the first two)
  • Ken MacLeod, Engine City (ditto)
  • Hal Duncan, Ink (unless Vellum goes entirely off the rails in the next few hundred pages, but I'm liking it so far)
  • Daniel Abraham, A Shadow in Summer
  • WJW, The Sundering (on order from Chapters)
  • And as always, various not-yet-published / -written, to include the third Eternal Sky book, Aspects: A Novel With Sorcery (ha), and while we're dreaming however many more books it'll take WJW to finish the Metropolitan sequence



And a meme! Via [personal profile] firecat.

How this works:

You comment, I give you an age (please tell me how old you are, or risk having to time-travel to find out the answers) and you respond to the meme questions with what applied to you back then, and what's true now.

[personal profile] firecat gave me 19. Eep. That would be December of 1995 and most of 1996.

I lived in:
A dorm room in Newman Hall at Virgina Tech, with James Matthew Roberts. I think that was the summer I took a couple of classes, so I stayed in Newman until July (Matt left in May). I stayed with my parents for a couple of months, and then Apartment Six in Blacksburg, with Mandy, Kym, and, um, I don't remember if Justin was there that semester or if he was off co-oping and had left us with Random Rob the subleaser.

Now I live in a condo in Vancouver, with [personal profile] uilos and two geriatric cats.

I drove:
Nothing at all, except for visits home when I borrowed Dad's dark green pickup.

Now I drive ... nothing at all, except for the occasional Car2Go or rental.

I was in a relationship with:
I'd started dating Shaye B-- right before I left for college; that lasted until a week after Valentine's. (Stupid February.) I got together with Steph D-- sometime in July.

Now I'm in a long-term relationship with [personal profile] uilos, who I met that August.

I feared:
In winter and spring I was scared of losing Shaye, and of getting bad grades. I don't think I was specifically afraid of anything in the fall. Other than being a failure and being alone.

Those last two are pretty much the only things I fear now, but now I'm willing to call them by name.

I worked at:
I was a full-time student at Tech, living off student loans.

Now I'm a tech writer for a medium-sized software company.

I wanted to be:
An engineer, a writer, a graduate, independent, surrounded by friends, loved, recognised.

Now I'd just like to be more confident in myself; everything else follows from that. If I could only get my record clean, I'd be a genius.
jazzfish: Barnaby from "Bone," text "Stupid, stupid rat meme!" (Rat Meme)
What are you reading?

The Dark World, by Henry Kuttner and (probably) C.L. Moore, because there was a free ebook, it was a strong influence on the early Amber books, and, most importantly, it takes little brain. It's... I am not sure if 'quite good' is appropriate, but it's very readable, in an overwrought kind of way.

What did you recently finish reading?

Lloyd Alexander's last book, The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio. It may be Alexander's only first-person novel apart from the Vesper Holly books. The Alexandrine hero is not the kind of character who should be written in the first person. The book itself is deeply uneven, nowhere near as tightly plotted as Alexander's others, and draws on a folklore he's tapped once already, in the far superior First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha. Not recommended except for the completist (ahem).

Before that... I reread Donaldson's Mordant's Need duology, because I needed something brainless. I read the heck out of the first volume when I was much younger. I couldn't remember why I didn't do that with the second. Now I do: the second isn't nearly as good. Rather, it doesn't fulfil the promise of the first book. Still and all, they're imaginative fantasy, with nicely twisty plots and an intriguing method of magic.

What do you think you'll read next?

Damned if I know. Everything on the To Be Read shelf wants more brain than I feel like giving it, with the possible exception of Voice of the Whirlwind.
jazzfish: Barnaby from "Bone," text "Stupid, stupid rat meme!" (Rat Meme)
What are you reading?

I've made it about two-thirds through Alice Miller's The Drama of the Gifted Child. I am doing a lot of nodding and saying "yes, exactly" as I read this, which suggests it's good and relevant. Then a lot of what's there falls out of my head five minutes later, which suggests even more strongly that it's good and relevant, in ways that my brain is refusing to think about because they're scary/painful. I think I may need to reread this fairly soon after finishing it.

What did you recently finish reading?

Hardwired, by Walter Jon Williams. Mid-eighties cyberpunk, indebted in equal parts to Neuromancer and Zelazny's Damnation Alley. Fantastic if you're into that sort of thing. (I am.) Also, JMF's Web of Angels, a pre-Neuromancer cyberpunk novel. I think Hardwired may be the better book; it has certainly aged better, in both tech and storytelling. Web is not without its charms, though.

What do you think you’ll read next?

The books I have with me are Tristan Taormino's Opening Up and WJW's Voice of the Whirlwind (100-years-later sequel to Hardwired), so most likely one or both of those.
jazzfish: Barnaby from "Bone," text "Stupid, stupid rat meme!" (Rat Meme)
What are you reading?

Godslayer by Jacqueline Carey, because it was a gift from semilocal J--. Second in a duology. I've also (still) got a bookmark in N.K. Jemisin's The Shadowed Sun where I stalled out.

What did you recently finish reading?

Banewreaker by Jacqueline Carey, first in the duology. I am not a huge fan of these books; they read like the author wanted to rewrite Lord of the Rings with the mythic gravitas of the Silmarillion, only from Sauron/Morgoth's point of view. Which is an interesting enough idea if the author can pull it off, but without decades of worldbuilding and a grounding in the epics that epic fantasy comes from, I don't think it's doable. Carey is no Tolkien, nor even Guy "ghostwrote the Silmarillion" Kay. On the other hand I am genuinely curious how far she'll carry the genre-twisting "bad guy's perspective" thing, and the characters are decent.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Good question. Probably not Tolkien. Likely either Princes of the Air by JMF, or something off the To Be Read shelf. Perhaps the Jemisin.
jazzfish: Barnaby from "Bone," text "Stupid, stupid rat meme!" (Rat Meme)
Via [livejournal.com profile] sartorias, on Book View Cafe.

What are you reading?

I'm currently about forty pages into N.K. Jemisin's The Shadowed Sun. It and the first book (The Killing Moon) have been slow going and I'm not sure why; good characters, fantastic worldbuilding, fine prose. There's just something there that's slowing me down. Might be the need to actively process everything that's going on, because so much is unfamiliar. Regardless I'm enjoying it quite a bit.

I'm also reading chunks of Diaspora, a hard-SF RPG built on the Fate engine. I... am not sure what I think of Fate as described in Diaspora. I'm having a hard time getting my head around the use of Aspects and Fate points. It's possible that story-games aren't my thing, at least not as presented here. I'm also not thrilled by the various combat mini-games. On the other hand, the collaborative world-building of a number of linked star systems seems like a lot of fun.

What did you recently finish reading?

Patrick Rothfuss's The Wise Man's Fear, because semilocal J-- was kind enough to loan me her copy when I mentioned that all the Vancouver library copies were reserved. In sharp contrast to the Jemisin, I breezed through this in the space of about a week. It's very good epic fantasy. About halfway through I realised the word I was looking for was "melodrama," of which it has its fair share-- but I'm willing to accept that because the main conceit is that it's the main character telling his life story to a chronicler. I'm very interested to see where Rothfuss goes with the third book, and even more interested to see what he does next.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Either the last volume of Zelazny's Collected Stories or Nancy Kress's Steal Across the Sky, both of which have been at the top of my TBR shelf for months now. Or maybe something else.
jazzfish: Barnaby from "Bone," text "Stupid, stupid rat meme!" (Rat Meme)
Because posting to DW is easy, even when other writing is hard, and because it's even easier when someone tells me what to post about.

(a very funny comic that bears no relation to anything, except maybe the title of this post)

"Comment to this post and I will list seven things I want you to talk about. They might make sense or they might be totally random. Then post that list, with your commentary, to your journal. Other people can get lists from you, and the meme merrily perpetuates itself."

(via [personal profile] rebelsheart)

Stupid, stupid rat meme! )
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
Posts I have been intending to write for awhile now, and may or not get to:
  • Medialog, Ralph Fiennes's Coriolanus
  • Medialog, Flann O'Brian's The Third Policeman
  • Medialog?, Burn Notice S1 vs Leverage S1
  • What I have been and will soon be up to
  • On the uselessness of role-playing books
  • On having a close friend again (mostly by accident, as these things tend to be), and some implications thereof
  • And a month and a half of linkspam, probably broken up among several posts.
Soon, grasshopper.



So apparently it's National Book Day? Or at least World Book Day in the UK. Good enough excuse for one of them question meme things, this one via [livejournal.com profile] mrissa.

The book I'm reading: Warren Ellis's Ellisian noir Crooked Little Vein, on loan from semilocal J--. Roger Zelazny, Collected Stories v.5: Nine Black Doves. I've had a bookmark in the front of Kushner & Sherman's The Fall of the Kings for months now. I suppose I can be said to have given up on [livejournal.com profile] truepenny's Corambis since it's been six months since I touched it. (Too much all at once; binged on the first three volumes and then my brain said "okay done now" around page 50.)

Books I'm writing: um. The last time I looked at "Junkyard Dog" I thought it might actually be a YA novel, or a novella with a YA protagonist. And I don't think "One Only" is a novel but there's one (at least) in that universe. Etc.

The book I love the most: gah. If you held a gun to my head I'd say Heat of Fusion And Other Stories by John M. Ford, at least today.

The last book I received as a gift: Vancouver Special by Charles Demers, an Xmas gift from [personal profile] uilos.

The last book I gave as a gift: Clark Ashton Smith's Red World of Polaris, to [personal profile] uilos for Xmas. She had very nice things to say about the quality of the book. The prose contained within seems to have been, um, for Smith completists.

The nearest book: A large paperback edition of Hesiod (Theogony, Works and Days, Shield), because the Misc shelf (top to bottom: poetry, cooking, Greeks + drama, more drama, lit-crit / writing advice / The Guide To Getting It On, oversized art books) is in the office behind me. If you go with "book that's not shelved," it's Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds, which I picked up along with The Third Policeman a few weeks ago.

The book I want someone else to please write for me: I'm still looking for something like "A History of Vancouver, 1960-2010." The Demers book was close but not quite; it's more focused on contemporary Vancouver and only incidentally touches on how it got that way.



Links, visual. Videos or comics or images.

The Lumarca: a short film of "a low-cost visualization project." Gorgeous.

This record player reads tree rings instead of LPs.

Darkness: "My roommate is dark... Sometimes you meet people like that, they have one adjective that fits them like a glove."

Old school screensaver.

Some self-assembly required.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
(via [personal profile] thanate; hers are "rules" but these are way too flexible to even be "guidelines.")

1) I don't know anything about writing. Rather, what I know about writing is on the level of freshman chemistry. Then you take O-chem and in the first week they say "Remember all that stuff you learned in freshman chemistry? Yeah, that was all lies we told you so you could grok some basic concepts. Here's how it really is." Then they do it again next year in P-chem.

2) "To be a writer, you must write. And no amount of prep-work is writing. Research is not writing. Taking notes about the world is not writing. Thinking about writing is not writing. Only writing is writing." --Gene Wolfe

3) Which is not to say that you don't need to do all those things. You might. You may also need to stare out the window for hours, play mindless video games, pet the cat, babble about how stuck you are, whatever. Not writing is part of the writing process. Just don't let it replace writing. (Hence why I tag these posts with "not writing.")

4) The way to get better at writing X is to write X. This is true for any value of X you can think of: "every day," "complete stories," "complex characters," anything. If you don't write X, you won't get any better at it.

5) Corollary: when you start writing X for the first time, you will be awful at it. This is normal. Do not give up. The second time it'll be a little less awful, and so on.

6) If you aren't having fun writing it, don't: no one else will have fun reading it. Shorten the boring transition, put a crisis in the middle of the expository dialogue, give the characters elaborately ridiculous hats. I have a sign (stolen from Steve Brust, who stole it from Gene Wolfe) that says "I am going to tell you something cool," so I can see it when I'm about to write something I think is dull, and write something awesome instead.

7) Say it with me: "I am a writer, and I will finish the shit that I started." Writing means finishing.

8) Which is not to say that finishing a draft is finishing a story. Writing also means revising.

9) Listen to your readers but don't take what they say as gospel. If only one person out of your group of eight has a problem with something, it may be just that reader. Or it may be a genuine problem that the other seven passed over for some reason. (PNH: "When someone tells you something is wrong in your story, they're usually right; when they tell you how to fix it, they're often wrong.")

10) Write the best damn thing you can, then send it out and start writing the next one. When it comes back, send it out again. After a certain point, whether a story gets bought is entirely up to whether it hits the right editor.

ETA: Ann (and from earlier). Alec. L. Blankenship. KLAGOR. Alena. Blair. Fran. LaShawn.
jazzfish: Randall Munroe, xkcd180 ("If you die in Canada, you die in Real Life!") (Canada)
Via [personal profile] jadelennox, I feel like slacktivisticly saving the US Postal service Canada Post.

First ten people to comment (comments screened) with their address and then repost this meme in their own blogs will get a snail mail letter.


ETA: Comments are screened; you're not just putting your address out for the world's spambots to harvest.
jazzfish: Barnaby from "Bone," text "Stupid, stupid rat meme!" (Rat Meme)
Oh, fine, I seem to have nothing else worth talking about. NPR put out a list of 'the top 100 F/SF books as nominated by people on the internet and narrowed down by a panel of experts[1],' and like all lists it's become a meme.

I cut hundred-book lists because I care. )



[1]"Where 'X' is an unknown quantity, and 'spurt' is a drip under pressure." --The Reduced Shakespeare Radio Show
jazzfish: Barnaby from "Bone," text "Stupid, stupid rat meme!" (Rat Meme)
Eh, sure, why not.

Question authority! Ask me anything, and I'll attempt to answer. Truthfully, even.

(Questions screened.)

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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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