Red and gold.

It astonishes me to realize that, for all that I adore the show The Flash, I’ve only mentioned it here a couple of times. So, in the name of breaking the week-long quiet streak that has resulted from travelling home, landing in a snowstorm, and shortly thereafter getting extremely sick, I am going to discuss the show that is currently my comfort watching.

When I started watching, I knew very little about the Flash. I knew that he was a speedster from DC comics; I knew that he worked with Superman sometimes; I knew that DC speedsters ran off something called the Speed Force, a kind of platonic ideal or Ur-speed that inhabits speedsters to a greater or lesser degree. And from cultural background radiation, I apparently knew that liquids floated as if they were in zero-G in the presence of the speed force, although I didn’t know I knew this until the light of my life showed me the promo trailer.

(Seriously. There’s more than a minute of this kid called Barry, and lines about being fast enough and having a good heart, and a man in a ball of lightning, and it’s all nagging faintly at me like I should recognize something, but what tips me off to it being a Flash trailer is the liquids in the lab getting all floaty.)

I also knew that I didn’t really like DC. I would take at least a look at any Vertigo comic, and I liked the Batman collection I had (which was actually a Joker collection), and I loved Kingdom Come. But overall the whole superheroes-as-gods thing didn’t hugely appeal.

But I watched the first episode of The Flash, and… okay, it had a bit of pilot-itis, and what looked like an extremely generic unrequited-love thing, but there was this kid. This really kind, hopeful kid. And as cool as his powers were he wasn’t in control of them so I wasn’t getting the “speed god will solve every problem” vibe. And… honestly, I came out of the first episode thinking “He’s like Peter Parker, except his job actually helps people.” And he didn’t have the ‘got powers, was painfully selfish until someone died’ thing going that Parker did, and…

He was hopeful. The whole show was hopeful, a four-colour major-key paen to saving people and supporting each other and powers as attribute embodiment and the ways tech is awesome and interesting and can be used to help people. He was… inspirational, I guess?

I gushed about this a little to the light of my life, and he pointed out to me that there was a reason Barry Allen had been chosen as an avatar of hope in DC comics. (Which was something else I didn’t know.)

This is, I think, discussed in greater detail with better construction and more coherence by Eric Burns-White (a guy who seems to have an excellent grasp of certain essentials of pulp-printed fiction, and is a hell of a lot more articulate than me), in his essay “My name is Eric Burns-White, and I have almost always hated Barry Allen.” Which I’m recommending as someone who adores the Barry Allen she’s seen to date, and can completely understand why the Barry Allen described would be an extremely annoying character.

The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle

One side of his face cuddled too hard into the sand, and one leg kicked the air three times before it stopped.

I am not doing Peter S. Beagle justice by quoting that line out of The Last Unicorn. I think I might not be doing him justice by quoting any line out of The Last Unicorn; they all build into each other and the one carries you along to the next and what starts in a lilac wood ends so very far away.

But at the same time, I remember very many of the lines from that book, and the one I have quoted remains, to my mind, one of the most affecting death scenes in fiction.

It’s The Last Unicorn. If you haven’t read it, do.

Winging it

I am currently somewhere between 30 and 40 thousand feet in the air, and twenty minutes away from landing in Vancouver.

Quick highlights: I have a brand new laptop bag. Breakfast was lovely. I am about a sixth of the way through HOUSE OF LEAVES. The flights have been decent so far, although I wish I’d remembered to pack a snack bar or something to cut down on the amount of airplane food (a purely budgetary concern).

(If I’d been flying with Air Canada instead of WestJet, I could have switched to a flight an hour earlier. Would not have made a huge difference, but after several trips with delays, I find I’ve developed a fondness for longer connections. But either way, it worked out.)

Ten minutes from touchdown, now. We’re going down into the clouds.

Approaching transit

My laptop bag doesn’t quite fit my laptop, so there’ve been some relatively last-minute packing adjustments. There may be more tomorrow morning, although if there aren’t it will still be fine.

I’m waffling over what books to bring. I like magazines for airports – they’re very thin, and the length of articles and stories handle interruption well – but I’m not sure about the books, or about whether to bring physical ones rather than electronic ones.

I’ll sort it all out, I suppose. And my plane takes off in twelve hours and change. 🙂

Possibly useful information

Most people I know know the things I’m about to say, but I don’t know most people. And since I’ve mentioned a few of these things to people over the last week and they seemed to find it useful, I figured this was not a bad time to mention it.

The Hugos

The Hugo Awards are awards for excellence in fantasy and science fiction. They’re awarded every year, and they’re not a juried award. Everyone who has a Worldcon membership for last year, the current year, or the year to come can nominate works for the ballot. Everyone who has a Worldcon membership for the current year can vote on the final ballet.

I’m not saying voting is trivial; the cheapest membership is $50 this year, and it’ll go up at the end of the month, and that’s in American dollars. (In recent years, the Hugos have provided a content pack that contains samples or full copies of the nominated works, which helps take some of the sting out of the outlay.)

Submission Grinder

So I was talking to someone at a party and she mentioned that she wrote very short fiction, about a hundred words, but “no-one would publish that”. After I was done blinking, I told her about the Submission Grinder.

The Submission Grinder is an online tool where you can keep a record of your writing and the places you have submitted it to. It lets you search for markets by genre, rate of pay, simsum or reprint policy, award nomination… you get the idea. It’s free.

There is also Duotrope. My understanding is that it provides a substantially similar service, but is not free.

Writer Beware

When you sell something, you will get a contract. If you are uneasy about that contract, if you don’t understand something, if you’re not 100% clear on copyright, if (as I did) you completely misread a phrase and are trying to figure out what the hell it means, you can go look at Writer Beware.

(You can even email them to ask questions. I did.)


I hear that every writing advice blog post has to have something about adjectives in it, and this is heavily about writing, so I thought I would mention them. That’s all.

“Gardenias”, Ian McDonald

There is death in the Barry-O tonight but still they come down from the neon and lasershine of Hy Brazyl, the five of them. They have given themselves names, as the ones who come down will, names like Zed and Lolo and Cassaday and the Shrike and Yani. Noble they are, comely, their fathers are Company men, bound by blood and contract, their mothers are Company women; they are born to live lives of lofty altitude among the crystal pinnacles of Hy Brazyl. So: why have they exchanged their Projects and corporadas for the tar-paper and plastic favelas of the Barry-O, where the faces have no contracts and no consequence and the rain washes the names from the streets?

This is how Ian McDonald’s “Gardenias” begins; I am very sorry to see that according to ISFDB it hasn’t been printed in twenty-three years. It was one of the first times I’d met what I thought of as fantasy language in a science fiction setting, and I have hung onto the aging paperback anthology that contains it through three moves and at least one decade. The language flows.

It doesn’t seem to be currently available in either paper or electronic format, but I’ve had some luck picking up old paperbacks secondhand, lately, and someone looking for the novelette could do worse than try AbeBooks.

Image is found here, by Juan Davila, used under the CC0 1.0 license

Whither and weather.

I’m going to BC for almost a week. BC is relatively warm, relatively hard to get to (the trip involves a puddle-jumper), and possesses the currently-very-cherished-by-me quality of not being Ontario in February.

The weather isn’t currently as bad as some Februarys (how does one pluralize that?), but in the next ten hours we’re supposed to get 5 to 10 cm of snow and ice, and then freezing rain all morning. This is actually pretty good for sidewalks before they’re plowed; if there’s a cushion of compressible stuff under the ice crust from the freezing rain, and the crust isn’t too thick, you can punch through the crust and embed your feet in the snow and ice pellets to reduce the odds of slipping.

The fact that this is my definition of “pretty good” is part of why I’m going to BC. The part I’m visiting gets a fair deal of rain (although I’ve mostly missed it when I’m there), but so little snow that it’s hardly worth mentioning.

It’s also the first time in a long time I’ve gone on a vacation and it hasn’t been to go somewhere. I’m a bit unnerved by the lack of schedule, but mostly I’m just hoping that I don’t end up worrying so much over what to do that I end up stressing during my time there.