February 6th, 2012

a-links

[links] Link salad awakens with slow reluctance

In case you missed it over the weekend, my new cancer tattoo: [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ] — Yes, on the back of my skull.

Christopher Walken reads Where The Wild Things Are

Antarctica – Fantastical World without Borders — An Antarctica travelog, relevant to one of my future projects. (Via [info]bravado111.)

Avería: The Average Font — Interpolative typography. Huh. Fascinating. (Thanks to [info]kshandra.)

Washington Park: 1907 — Detroit's "moon towers", as depicted here, later were sold to the City of Austin, where most of them still survive.

One’s A Crowd — The trend toward living alone?

[info]garyomaha on working lunches, or not

Neurocinematic comparison of monkeys and humansSpaghetti western reveals differences between human and monkey brain. Mmm, neurocinematic. I loved this bit: Like most other films, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a complex multisensory stimulus, filled with rich, operatic imagery and, of course, Ennio Morricone's unforgettable score. It is, however, fairly safe to assume that humans and monkeys will interpret the film quite differently. (Via [info]danjite.)

Path Is Found for the Spread of Alzheimer’s — The headline is slightly misleading, as the story refers to Alzheimer's progression within an individual rather than to transmission between individuals. Interesting stuff.

The Komen Controversy: Planned Parenthood Claims a New Kind of Victory in the Culture War — I am baffled by the conservative charge that Planned Parenthood "bullied" Komen. What is the Right's treatment of Planned Parenthood but bullying, if you want to frame it in those terms? More to the point, for decades the entire forced pregnancy movement is about bullying desperate, vulnerable young women and their medical providers. What else is a clinic blockade or a doctor target list but sheer, awful bullying in the name of what? The god of love? Decency? Conservative bigotry and "morals"? Can you imagine the reaction if liberal-progressives blockaded churches and targeted pastors? Project much, guys? The Right can dish it out, but they can't take it.

A Puritan's 'war against religion'Roger Williams, the Puritan who founded Rhode Island, insisted on the state refraining from intervening in the relationship between humans and God. Freedom of religion absolutely means freedom from religion. That is the best protection any church has against persecution. Despite the modern GOP interpretation, freedom of religion doesn't mean the freedom to exercise oppressive bigotry, narrow-minded judgmenentalism, or tear down educational and cultural standards in favor of silly mythmaking.

[info]ericjamesstone points out that I am wrong in characterizing Romney as saying he won't have a Muslim in his cabinet — This in connection to my comment that I thought making an issue of Romney' religion was a red herring, until he made an issue of Islam as a religion. Speaking as an atheist, there is nothing more or less at issue with Romney's LDS membership than there is with Newt's Catholicism or Clinton's Southern Baptist faith. To me, the religion of the candidates would only be an issue if there were a straightforward atheist running on a major party ticket. Which won't likely happen in my lifetime...

Senate GOP: Activist Federal Judges WantedThe hypocrisy of a group of Republicans who are supporting the lawsuit against Obama's recess appointments. Republicans being hypocritical? That's as inconceivable as the idea of Newt Gingrich cheating on his wife.

The true conservative alternative: Ron Paul? — It's sad that conservatism has become a race to the bottom to display the most ignorance, bigotry and sheer foolishness.

?otd: Dream much??




2/6/2012
Writing time yesterday: 5.5 hours (Sunspin revisions)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 7.5 (solid)
Weight: 229.4
Currently reading: The Man in the Moone, and Other Lunar Fantasies ed. Faith Pizor

writing-bookmobile

[books] Recent reading, a few comments thereon

Scourge of the Betrayer, Jeff Salyards, Night Shade Books, May 2012 [ Powells | BN ]

Night Shade sent me this book to read for blurb. I'm still chewing on how to blurb it, so I figure writing a quick pocket review will help. This is Salyards' debut novel, and its the first in a series (though I don't know how many volumes the series is slated to be). It's quest fantasy, of a sort, narrated by a confused scribe named Arkamondos. He is hired to follow and document the activities of a small band of soldiers on extended foreign assignment, led by one Captain Braylar Killcoin. The book started slowly, and I had some trouble getting into the story, but once it caught for me, it was a lot of fun.

I've been trying to figure out why the book didn't take off well for me. I believe the problem is inherent in the set up. The initial confusion and naiveté of the narrator makes it hard for the novel to come into focus early on. In a sense, Salyards has done his job a little too well -- the "what's going on here?" issues that Arkamondos struggles with become the reader's struggles as well. The problem with a quest fantasy narrated by someone in ignorance of the point of the quest is that you wind up fairly literally driving to the story.

My other frustration was that I wasn't expecting this to be a book one of a multivolume story, so I was quite surprised when the manuscript ended without resolution. The story just stopped. That's the bad news. The good news is that I really want to read the next book.

The Man in the Moone and Other Lunar Fantasies, ed. Faith Pizor and T. Allan Comp, Praeger Publishers, January 1971 [ AbeBooks | BN ]

This is a collection of fiction about voyages to the moon, ranging from 1638 to 1841, with an introduction by Isaac Asimov. I bought it because I was interested in reading some very early science fiction. This is very much in parallel with my project last year to read nineteenth century proto-steampunk, in the original Klingon, as it were.

The oldest of these pieces is written with the very curious diction and spelling of 17th century literature. If you can handle Shakespeare, you can handle this, but there is definitely no skimming here. Other stories range from a fantasy by Edgar Allan Poe to a weird little piece about a steam powered duck. The editors provide an introduction to each selection which gives literary, social and political context, and offer occasional footnotes elucidating obscure points within the text. That's especially helpful in the case of the older works.

Of course this work was not self-consciously written as either science fiction or fantasy, as neither of those genres existed when the pieces were published. Most of them are social satire, in fact. Still, it's fascinating to read these premodern visions of how human beings might reach the moon. This is special interest reading, in my opinion. The entertainment value is there, but the going is fairly challenging. On the other hand, I really enjoyed exploring one of the roots of our contemporary genre.

writing-retro_spaceship

[awards|repost] Obligatory story pimpage

I didn't publish much short fiction last year, due to the effects of my cancer journey on both my productivity at the keyboard and on my focus on marketing. Such writing time as I've had has remained focused on my novels. Nonetheless, a few things have squeaked out into the marketplace.

For my own part, I think the best of these is my Sunspin novelette, "A Long Walk Home", which has been selected for Year's Best Science Fiction volume 29. If you're a Hugo or Nebula voter, I hope you'll give it consideration.

Anyway, here's the list.

Novels
Endurance (Green, volume 2), Tor Books

Novelettes
"A Long Walk Home", Subterranean Online
"The Decaying Mansions of Memory", Untold Adventures

Short Fiction

"The Blade of His Plow", Human for a Day, ed. Martin H. Greenberg and Jennifer Brozek
"A Critical Examination of Stigmata's Print Taking the Rats to Riga" The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists, ed. Jeff and Anne VanderMeer
"'Hello,' Said the Gun", Daily Science Fiction
"A Place to Come Home To" (with Shannon Page), When the Hero Comes Home, ed. Gabrielle Harbowy and Ed Greenwood
"They Are Forgotten Until They Come Again", River, ed. Alma Alexander
"Unchambered Heart", ChiZine
"You Know What Hunts You", The Edge of Propinquity