September 15th, 2010


[links] Link salad drives home in the misty dark

Midwest Book Review covers small presse releases, including the Fairwood Press release of my single-title novella, The Specific Gravity of GriefCancer is a vile mistress for many in life. "The Specific Gravity of Grief" is a combination of novel and memoir from Jay Lake as he combines his own experience with cancer into a novel which he relays as a life not quite his own, but telling his story. "The Specific Gravity of Grief" is a thoughtful take on the cancer story and the grief that follows the loss to the disease, highly recommended. (Via tbclone47.)

AUDIO REVIEW: The Year's Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction 2 Edited by Allan KasterSF Signal, with a lukewarm mention of my short story, "On the Human Plan".

Best SF reviews my short story "Human Error"

catvalente with a great question about male sexuality — She asks men to objectively describe their experiences of orgasm. All kinds of interesting things in comments. And to state the obvious, this link is NSFW, in that it will trigger keyword filters.

Rare Roman helmet goes to auction — An amazing find in Britain. (Via corwynofamber.)

Clouds, Birds, Moon, VenusAPOD channels Maxfield Parrish.

The Fool’s Cap Map of the World — A mighty strange late 16th century map from Strange Maps.

The Bomb ChroniclersSecret corps of filmmakers documented nuclear tests. (Snurched from theinferior4 here.)

Geocentrism? Seriously? — For those times in your life when Creationism and Intelligent Design just aren't stupid enough. Although Bad Astronomy says a number of interesting things about geocentrism in this post.

Hybrids May Thrive Where Parents Fear to Tread — (Thanks to Dad.)

[GOP Senate candidate] Angle on why she pulled out of debate she asked for: "We wanted an informed electorate" — The sad part is that statement probably makes sense to her voting base.

?otD: What's your favorite city?

Writing time yesterday: 1.5 hours (Sekrit Projekt, 1,800 words)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 6.5 (interrupted)
This morning's weigh-in: 251.2
Yesterday's chemo stress index: 2/10 (fatigue, peripheral neuropathy)
Currently reading: Worldshaker by Richard Harland


[photos] New Zealand: Cape Palliser

Past Ngawi and the seal colony lies Cape Palliser itself. This is the southernmost tip of the North Island, and definitely qualifies as one of the world's ass-end-of-nowhere places. (I've visited a lot of them, from Point Barrow to the south Gobi Desert, and elsewhere.) Like most a-e-o-n places, Cape Palliser has a stark and compelling beauty of its own.

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[writing|process] A note on titles

seanan_mcguire riffing on Ed Schubert, himself discussing the magic of titles.

As Seanan and Ed both quite rightly point out, the title has to be interesting, evocative and emblematic of the story, without trying too hard. That might mean short or even brutal in some cases ("Going Bad"), or downright poetic in others ("Mr. Scalpel and Mr. Gloves and the Cancer at the Heart of the World").

I believe I've discussed this before, but here's Jay's handy cheat sheet for titling short stories. I suppose it works for novels, too, but having written 450 or so short stories and only about a dozen novels, the issue comes up far less often with book-length fiction.

  1. If the title is self-evident from the nature of the story, I go with that. ("The American Dead".)

  2. Sometimes the title was the original germ of the story idea. ("Lehr, Rex".)

  3. Sometimes it's a memorable line from within the story itself. ("The Sky That Wraps The World Round, Past the Blue and Into the Black".)

  4. If none of the above works well for me, I go to either a Bible search engine, always selecting the King James version, or a Shakespeare search engine. I enter a few keywords from the story, retrying that search several times with different keywords or concept terms.


[cancer] Heading back under the knife

Tomorrow is my liver resectioning surgery date. Third major surgery in three years, all to address primary colon cancer and subsequent metastases of same. I am not sure if I'll have a chance to blog tomorrow morning, and I certainly won't be blogging for a while after surgery, so y'all play nice while I'm gone. calendula_witch will have status updates on her blog, and possibly here as well. For those in Portland, I'll be at OHSU, probably through Monday, and generally welcome visitors when I'm stuck in the hospital.

Our antipodeal vacation did a wondrous job of keeping my mind off this, but it pretty much all came crashing back yesterday. Had a lovely dinner last night with family and friends. Sadly, that seems to be an annual tradition. Managed something of a slow-motion meltdown afterwards when I was alone with calendula_witch. She was quite the loving pillar of support.

The Fear sucks.

As I've mentioned previously, I am quite overwhelmed by the experience of major surgery. I know just enough about anaesthesia to very, very afraid of it. I hate the epidural with a passion though I recognize its effectiveness. The discomforts of recovery, most especially including the catheter, distress me. All the lost time leaves a strange lacuna in my memory, both the black hole of anaesthesia and the strange dream state of post-operative medication.

All of which is to say, I've weathered tougher surgeries than tomorrow's, and I'll pass through tomorrow's just fine. Whatever I think of the toll it takes. The hardest part will be waiting for the pathology report. That's what will confirm the commitment to another six-month round of chemo. Or, slightly possibly, not.

So a lot at stake today. We'll be at the hospital most of this afternoon doing pre-op consultations of various sorts. I'll try to do a summary blog report tonight of whatever there is to be reported. After that, le deluge.


[culture] Scenes from an oncology unit

Gentleman with a booming voice is having a loud, lengthy conversation next to us in the surgical oncology waiting room. After a few passive-aggressive dirty looks from me and calendula_witch, I finally go up to the receptionist and ask if this is a cell-phone free zone as most waiting rooms at OHSU are. He's unsure, and clearly doesn't want to be drawn in. I return to my seat and the woman with the loud talker looks at me in disgust and says sarcastically, "Really?"

Me: "Yes. This is a pretty quiet place, and his voice carries. It's quite disruptive."

Her: "Well, he was having a problem at work."

Me: "Yes, I know. I heard all of it. But there's an area down by the elevator lobby for cell phones."

Her: "He's quite ill, you know." (This she tells me in an oncology unit. Ahem.)

Me: "What do you think I'm doing here?"

It's that weird po-mo etiquette that says objecting to someone's intrusive cell phone conversation is the height of rudeness, but doesn't see the intrusive conversation as a problem. She was most put out at my objection.

(The guy was quite apologetic and very nice about it, btw.)


[cancer] Surgery details

Spent the afternoon at OHSU. As calendula_witch explains, we now have a schedule for tomorrow. I'm to be at surgical admitting at 6 am. Surgery is scheduled for 7:30 am. It ought to last three to four hours. I'll then spend a few hours in recovery before being transferred to ICU for overnight.

Friday I should be transferred to a regular bed, and I'll be able to have visitors. If things go well, I'll be discharged Monday. I will be interested in visitors once I'm out of ICU. Watch this space or calendula_witch's blog for details.

Meanwhile, tonight I have a colonic purge and a liquid diet. Because I know how to party.