January 16th, 2012


[links] Link salad for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Your Storytelling Brain — (Via Curiosity Counts.)

The Rise of the New Groupthink

Photographs Of Abandoned America Show Civic Problems, Engagement

Israelis Facing a Seismic Rift Over Role of Women — This kind of religiously-driven idiocy makes me glad I'm an atheist. What is it about faith that makes people want to impose their private values on everyone around them?

The Law Of Putin’s Jungle

Why Is Europe a Dirty Word? — Because low-information GOP voters are idiots.

Who’s afraid of “The Tempest”?Arizona's ban on ethnic studies proscribes Mexican-American history, local authors, even Shakespeare. Disgusting. This is what conservatism brings to America. Just disgusting. (Via [info]danjite.)

History vs. the Tea Party — Everything the Tea Party is mad at black, (somewhat) progressive Obama about was true under white, conservative Bush, who in fact caused most of those problems with his misguided policies. Yet the almost entirely white, conservative Tea Party was nonexistent until a black man was in the White House. Coincidence?

Is South Carolina the Last Gasp for Tea Party in GOP Nomination? — Independent voters my ass. Only four percent of those surveyed in a November poll by Clemson University opposed the conservative movement.

Santorum warns voters of scary rhetoricSantorum blamed the current national division on the president's failure to unite people behind a common vision. Really? The Republicans's self-declared "number one legislative priority" being throwing Obama out of office wouldn't have something to do with it, Senator Frothy Mix? Hard to build bridges with people who are setting fire to the piers.

Gingrich Suggests Illegally Firing Federal Employees Over Liberal Views“I think an intelligent conservative wants the right federal employees delivering the right services in a highly efficient way and then wants to get rid of those folks who are in fact wasteful, or those folks who are ideologically so far to the left, or those people who want to frankly dictate to the rest of us.” Um, Newt, if you want to fire people who want to frankly dictate to the rest of us, start with the entire conservative movement, which is about nothing more than dictating behavior and restricting personal freedom, right on the face of their stated goals.

?otd: Got the day off?

Writing time yesterday: 1.75 hours (4,400 words on short story)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 7.0 (solid)
Weight: 219.6
Currently reading: The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross<


[books] Recent reading

I've read three books recently that I wanted to take a moment to comment on. Daughter of the Sword by Steve Bein, (Roc, October, 2012), and two Charles Stross books, Saturn's ChildrenPowells | BN ] and The Fuller MemorandumPowells | BN ].

Daughter of the Sword was sent to me in bound manuscript form as a candidate for blurb. I really enjoyed it, and provided a pull quote which Roc may or may not be using. It's a book with an interesting structure, two entwined narratives that contrast significantly. One is the story of a Tokyo cop, the only female detective-sergeant on the force, chasing a strange series of murders, coping with her sister's disappearance, and battling the institutional sexism of a police force where most women either are meter maids or coffee girls. The other thread skips through Japanese history from the Mongol invasions through WWII, chronicling the story of a set of swords forged by one of the great masters of that art. There are curses and possessions, mixing a very light-handed fantasy element with police procedural and a journey through Japanese culture. Some wonderfully lateral views of a pair of common Western storytelling tropes not so often bound together. This story was a bit off my most usual pleasure reading path, and I'm glad I took it.

Saturn's Children is billed on the cover as a space opera, but I'm not sure I'd call it that. The conceit at the heart of the book is profound and fascinating — that the human race died out but its intelligent servants have carried on without their masters, for the most part barely noticing the change. Frea, nearly the last of a series of courtesan-androids who are all bereft of purpose in the absence of human lovers, is at first pulled, then pushes herself, through a string of events and conspiracies that provides a set-piece tour of the solar system, from Mercury to Eris. And this book is funny. There are some real howlers of bad puns and jokes, as well as a great deal of more subtle humor. Stross' tongue is firmly in his cheek even as he covers deadly serious issues of identity, independence and the notion of what it means to be free.

The Fuller Memorandum is not the first Laundry novel, but it's the first one I read. (Selection was limited the day I walked into the bookstore — normally I begin a series at the beginning.) That being said, it worked just fine as a freestanding book. I'd been a little skeptical of the premise of the Laundry novels, about a secretive arm of the British intelligence community charged with battling the occult and very specifically working to prevent a return of the Elder Gods. Stross pulls it off, beautifully, with his trademark fractally encysting conspiracies and mordant wit. Highly recommended, and now I need to go round up the rest of the Laundry novels.


[writing|cancer] The horse continues

Yesterday I finished "You Will Attend Until Beauty Awakens" at 13,300 words, by writing a final 4,400 words. It's the first piece of fiction I've written since chemotherapy put my right brain into vapor lock this past October.

You can imagine my profound relief. It doesn't really matter if this story is good or not — well of course it does, of course, but not in this context. It matters that I wrote and finished it. I started last Monday, and seven days later on Sunday I was done. With two days off along the way.

I produced it, start to finish, at a respectable rate of output, and I like it.

This is me, back on the horse, and the horse continues.

The manuscript is out to first readers now. I'll have to find some time to revise sometime in the next few weeks. But tomorrow, or possibly Tuesday, I'm on to Sunspin revisions. (As it happens, [info]the_child has a basketball game tomorrow, which is why I may have to wait til Tuesday to get going.)

This is who I am. A writer, writing. Damn, am I glad to be back.