checking in

July 9, 2018

I spent the weekend in the cool, cool mountains, birdwatching and reading a book by a rushing creek.  A note for people who despair of their To Be Read piles — the book I brought on the trip was an ARC I got when I worked in the bookstore twenty years ago and have been hauling around ever since. Yes, I know ARC’s are supposed to be read before the book is released. But I had oh-so-many of them back in the day. Well, I’m reading it now. And a quick glance at Amazon tells me this author is still out there and has released books set in this world as recently as last month, which makes me happy. (I haven’t finished this one yet, and don’t want to talk about it until I have.)

THE WILD DEAD is out next week.

And a reminder:  Kindle Worlds is shutting down next week, so if you want to grab my two GI Joe stories, “Luck Be a Lady” and “That Famous Silent Issue,” better do it now.

 

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new reading

July 5, 2018

For once, I’ve read a couple of books in a timely manner, i.e. when they are new and not years later. Hurrah!

I blurbed Witchmark by C.L. Polk because reading it made me happy, and I’ve really needed some happy reads lately. It’s a little bit steampunk, a little bit urban fantasy, an alternate Edwardian setting with magic and weirdness and likable characters and a sweet romance.

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. Stand-alone fantasy in the same vein as Uprooted, which was wonderful. Fairy tale inspired and quite complex. Not as personable as Uprooted — quite a bit sadder in some ways, in fact. There was a point where I wasn’t sure anyone was going to get a happy ending.

And I think Becky Chambers has a new one in her series out this month? I still need to get that one.

Wild Cards: Low Chicago is out now. I don’t have a story in this one, but I’ll be getting a copy soon because I simply must!

And in just two weeks now:  The Wild Dead will be out. Commence nail biting.

 

I’m actually kind of stalled out on TV watching for the moment. Distracted by other things, just not interested, I’m not sure what. It’s actually not a bad thing, not being in the mood for TV. I’ve been reading a ton, these past couple of weeks. Of course that may be from all my library holds coming due AT THE SAME TIME. Heh.

Star Trek: Discovery:  I finally finished it, and while I liked a lot of it — the characters, the twist, the novelty of having a clear protagonist with a clear arc rather than the usual ensemble format of Star Trek, it also had a lot that just pissed me off. The soap-opera nature of the drama. So many places where everyone was just dumb as bricks. (Seriously, how many times does Burnham decide that the right thing to do is completely interrupt the very dangerous situation they’re in to go ask someone — usually someone really untrustworthy — about how to handle Klingons? Too many times.)  Really aggravating. Not sure I’m on board for season 2. People keep saying “but the first season of a new Trek is always bad!” Okay. Sure. But I’m afraid that the faults on this one are baked into the show’s ethos.

Jessica Jones season 2:  So, I watched two episodes and was kind of “meh” and wasn’t going to watch any more but I heard it got better so I watched the third, which starts with Jessica and Trish getting rid of a body, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember where or how the body came from. Like, no memory of how they got into this situation in what was clearly a continuation of what happened in the previous episode. And this may be why I’m not watching a lot of TV right now — I’m just not engaged enough to even pay attention.

And Star Wars Rebels is finished. Argh!

Maybe when Legion and The Expanse start back up in a couple of weeks my level of engagement will kick back in.

Oh — the book recommendation:  All Systems Red by Martha Wells. It’s a space opera/cyborg story. A cyborg trying to get along with people who don’t understand it, which is a story we’ve all seen before. But the voice on this one is so good, so distinct and engaging, that it blew me away.

There are apparently sequels on the way. *grabby hands*

 

escapism

March 5, 2018

Saw Black Panther again because my friends and I have decided that we like Wakanda better than reality. This time I really liked the blanket shields, and how important of a lesson it is to always make friends with your boyfriend’s battle rhino. I also noticed that Agent Ross is wearing a wedding band? Why do I notice these things? Sheesh.

Over the weekend I also completely binge-read not one but two novels with really happy endings. I’m thinking about what I would like to see in a romance novel, if I were going to write one. I haven’t read a ton of romance but I do have opinions.

Like I don’t have enough projects on my plate right now.

This may be the first and quite possibly the last time a movie I wrote a formal review for wins the Best Picture Oscar. See my review of The Shape of Water on Lightspeed.

This month’s issue of Lightspeed has my review of Black Panther.

And if that wasn’t enough I went back and watched Avengers last night. The first one.  That world has gotten so huge and big and complex that it’s a real trip going back and watching the start of it all. It’s very earnest, and there’s a sense that they hadn’t quite opened the throttle on it yet. They were happy just to get all the balls in the air and flowing smoothly. That first Avengers was juggling so much. And now, they’ve gone from juggling like 5 balls to juggling 12, and it looks just as smooth as it ever did.

There really isn’t enough escapism in the world for me right now. Which makes it all the more fortunate that I have the job I do. I’m just going to be over here thinking of stories and happy endings, thank you very much.

 

It’s award nomination season time again (I’m eligible to nominate for both the Nebula and the Hugo, and I try really hard to do both). I’ve already posted my own work, and now in the interest of completion I want to post about other people’s work that I really liked.

As usual, I haven’t read nearly as much as I should, especially in the area of short fiction. One of my goals this week is to try to cram in some reading to find some gems. I have, however, managed to get in a few novels — mostly new entries by old favorites.

Tool of War, by Paolo Bacigalupi. This is set in the same world as his Shipbreaker and The Drowned Cities, and nicely wraps up the stories of characters from all those books.  These are some of the best action/thriller novels you’ll read, and all grounded in really solid and thought-provoking science fiction, mostly in the areas of climate change and bio-engineering. Good stuff.

Persepolis Rising, by James S.A. Corey. The latest in the Expanse, and this book does something I don’t think I’ve ever seen space opera of this kind do. Plenty of space opera deals with galactic empires and the fall of galactic empires. This one covers the start of one.  It’s great.

Best series:  The Hugos have a Best Series category with some pretty specific requirements, and I’m happy that once again Wild Cards qualifies. I know I’m totally biased on this one, but this is a series that’s been running for 30 years, with 20+ volumes, and has remained cohesive and consistent and is also some of the best superhero storytelling in the genre. It really deserves a nod.

Movies:  Always a fun category. I’m definitely going to nominate Colossal, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Downsizing (I gave it an A for effort if not execution).  I’ll probably also nominate Wonder Woman.

But TV is where things are really going to get tough this years. We’re at some kind of peak TV. It’s amazing how much good TV there is out there. Enough that so-so shows I would have put up with 10 years ago are just right out now. Who has time for so-so when there’s so much great?

I’ve got three shows I really want to push this year. The Expanse, of course. Probably episode 2.13, “Caliban’s War.” You know, the one where everything goes to hell. Again. Love it.

Legion. I can’t stop thinking about this show. My favorite episode is “Chapter 7,” the one that operates on three different levels of reality, where David talks to himself and figures out some of his past, and then becomes a true and honest-to-goodness superhero, much to everyone’s consternation.

And finally Star Wars: Rebels hasn’t just grown on me, it’s become one of my favorite things on TV, and I’m kind of dreading the show ending this year. It’s because of the prequel thing:  with the exception of a couple of cameos in Rogue One, most of these guys don’t show up later. I’m very worried. But never mind that for now. Last year included what may be my favorite episode of the show:  3.15, “Trials of the Darksaber,” in which Kanan Jarrus finally comes into his own as a mentor, and Sabine finally comes to terms with her past. And they do it at the same time, together, in a great piece of storytelling. (In looking up this episode #, I discovered the Kanan is voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr., which I somehow had not figured out before. The man who starred in Wing Commander, all grown up.)

 

inspiration

January 26, 2018

My friends went to Paris and brought me back a used book, and I have to talk about how happy this makes me.

This is a book about a killer robot. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m going to, because it’s by Kate Wilhelm. Multiple award winning, co-founder of the Clarion Writing Workshop Kate Wilhelm. One of the great beloved authors of SF&F Kate Wilhelm.

Now, I have never heard of The Killing Thing. I’ve never heard anyone talk about this book. It’s…shall we say it’s not a classic? The title…it’s not precisely riveting, is it?

And isn’t that great?!  The great writer Kate Wilhelm once wrote a skinny paperback novel about a killer robot.  What this means for me, what I thought about the minute I saw this:  not everything has to be a classic.  Writers sometimes worry so much about every single thing they do getting attention, getting accolades — especially in the online world when it seems like everyone is talking about awards and bestsellers lists and year’s best and all these bells and whistles.

But not everything we do is going to get bells and whistles. And that’s okay.  It’s more than okay. It’s just a fact of life. Write the thing. Then write the next thing. Write a novel about a killer robot. Win the Hugo for a different novel ten years later.

You just keep writing.

It’s great.

 

 

Ursula K. Le Guin

January 24, 2018

She’s gone.

I have no words.

I have too many words, but they’ve all turned to ash.

She was always exactly what a writer ought to be.