Well that was unexpected.

Bannerless won the Philip K. Dick Award at Norwescon this past weekend. I didn’t write a speech, because, well. I’m really happy and grateful and excited and humbled by this. Norwescon put on a great party and I got to hang out with and get to know some of the other nominees, including Deji Bryce Olukotun, whose book After the Flare won the Special Citation. My brother Rob was there as my plus one which made it all the more special.

Lately I’ve been doing the math on my career — I sold my first pro short story in 1999, so it’ll be twenty years next year.

And I’m still going strong, it seems.

Onward and upward!

 

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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*

 

Norwescon this weekend

March 28, 2018

Just a reminder, I’ll be at Norwescon this weekend. Most of my programming, including a signing and a reading, is on Saturday and Sunday. Friday is the Philip K. Dick Awards, which Bannerless is a finalist for.

And I just got ARC’s for The Wild Dead.

And I’m heading into the homestretch on the current novel manuscript. So of course I’m going to be traveling in the middle of it. If I seem a little distracted over the next couple of weeks, that’s why.

Onward ho!

 

Pacific Rim: Uprising

March 26, 2018

Well that was a heck of a lot of fun. It pushed a whole bunch of my buttons — the small military squad coming together for heroics, the awkward cadets who have to take over, the scrappy uber-competent teenage girl hero —

If you’re looking for something that’s exactly like the first one, with all the same characters and the same story beats, you won’t get it. But you know how the first one was a bunch of 1980’s anime tropes perfectly translated to live action? This is a bunch of different 1980’s anime tropes perfectly translated to live action. Sort of like the third season of Robotech v. the first.

But it was so much fun.

My prediction that all the jaegers would come together to form one giant jaeger did not happen.

At least, not exactly.

 

Star Wars in Concert

March 23, 2018

Last night I went to see Star Wars with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, and it was a lot of fun. First, I love live symphony music. Second, the Star Wars soundtrack is one of the greatest of all time. The both together? Excellent.

Watching the symphony play the soundtrack live with the movie, I notice things I wouldn’t otherwise. Like, the woodwinds play a big part. (Listening, I always thought it was strings and horns?) And also the silences. Places where there’s no soundtrack at all:  a big chunk of the Battle of Yavin has no music. Darth Vader and Obi-Wan’s duel? No music. The music starts again at the emotional beats:  the moment Obi-Wan turns his lightsaber away in the duel. The death of Red Leader in the battle.

The whole soundtrack is great, but when you hear the music in concert, played as concert music, you’re only going to hear the set pieces:  the opening titles, the Imperial March, etc. But seeing it with the film? You get to hear the whole thing.

A couple of years ago I went to see and hear when the symphony did Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the thing I noticed on that one is the Ark’s theme: it has its own theme that gets played when people talk about it, when Indy discovers the next clue on the quest, etc. And it builds. The first time we hear it it’s just one flute. Then flute and clarinet. Then all the woodwinds. Then the strings. So that by the time we get to the climactic Nazi reveal ceremony and all the terribleness, it’s the entire orchestra and the audience has been musically primed for the emotional build the whole film.

It’s great.

Next, I decided I’d really, really love to see “2001: A Space Odyssey” with a live symphony and chorus.

 

working, working

March 21, 2018

Wednesdays have become my day to Do All the Things. Last Wednesday was checking out the Linking Asia exhibit at the Denver Art Museum, a) because it’s cool and b) it’s very relevant to the novel I’m working on right now.

This Wednesday was riding.

Next Wednesday will be getting ready for Norwescon and the Philip K. Dick Awards.

And right now, the novel is about to head into the homestretch. Which means I’m about to maybe go a little bit crazy until it’s finally all finished.

Stay tuned.

 

bird geekery

March 19, 2018

One of the things I’ve learned since really starting birding a few years ago is that ornithologists are constantly making up new species. And getting rid of other species. I mean, not actually. It’s just that the science is getting better all the time, DNA analysis is a thing now, and sometimes a regional subspecies turns out to be a whole new bird, and other times a couple of different species have hybridized with each other so much they’re actually just the same bird. So imagine my shock when I learned that they split off the Canada goose into a new subspecies. Canada goose, one of the common birds in the continental U.S. Some might even call it a pest. And now there’s another whole species, the Cackling goose, that basically looks exactly like the Canada goose except it’s short and stubby. Like this:

To make matters worse, it mostly hangs out with Canada geese. This means to ID and check off a Cackling goose, I needed to start paying attention to gigantic noisy boring flocks of Canada geese. Like, mindfully, and stuff.

Why are you doing this to me, ornithologists?  Why?!?  I can tell other birders are cranky about this too because over on eBird, instead of reporting Canada and Cackling geese separately, they just enter them under “Canada/Cackling Goose.”  Which is cheating. But I can understand. I want to try to be at least a little accurate.

Well, I decided this was the year I was going to do it. I was going to spot my Cackling goose. Because seriously, they’re two different birds once you see the differences. Cackling geese really do have short necks and short little bills compared to their former species-mates. And they’re small, and some of them have those prominent neck rings.  When you look at comparison photos online, they’re definitely different.

But comparing photos online versus spotting actual birds moving around in the wild? Yeah.  So basically I’ve spent the last two months taking pictures of one of the most common boring birds I see on my outings and bringing them home and comparing them to online ID sites to determine that no, in fact, those are still Canada geese.

I knew if I could just actually positively ID a Cackling goose in the wild, I’d figure it out.

Well, I did it on Saturday. I totally, 100% without a doubt got my Cackling geese. Like, once I spotted them they were obvious. And it isn’t just that they really are stubby little versions of the other. They acted different. Like, they all clumped together quietly drifting along on the water and looking vaguely embarrassed at how loud and obnoxious all the Canada geese were being.

Like they might actually be happy to be split out into their own species.

You go, little Cackling geese. I got yer backs.