Surrey, again

SiWC is being fantastic and fantastically dense as always. I am going to need a couple of days after it’s all over to digest, but at least I knew to arrange for them.

The online presentations are interesting. I get the sense that they’re going a little faster than usual – I can’t quite keep up with some of the presentations, and need to leave a little bit of space blank to fill in a word or two in my notes later. On the plus side, everything’s recorded and available that way for a month, so there’ll be time to do that. I’m on the fence about the chat – some people use it to comment on what’s going on, some people use it for tangents that I find really distracting – but really, it’s the kind of thing that doesn’t have an in-person equivalent so I suppose I can just set it aside.

Dan Wells did a presentation on psychological horror that is making me want to dig up my notes from Hallier Ephron’s 2018 presentation on things that are creepy. The first is “what if you can’t trust yourself” and the second is “when things might not be okay but you still have room to hope that they are”, and I feel like there’s something to dig into at the intersection. Something about when hope is lying to yourself.

A bit scattered because I’m still waking up; have more thoughts but am going to focus on getting ready to interact with people and learn things.

Pleasant fall

I confess to preferring grey weather, but today is cool and pleasant enough that I am not minding the lack of cloud cover. I raked a lot of the back yard (I have no idea what I’m going to do about getting the violets out; they are absolutely brutally stubborn, and I would like a back yard that is not-them), I went out for a walk, and I’m making progress on both my current sweater and my tsundoku pile.

I’ve got *mumble* revisions on the burner and two stories in progress, so that’s going to be keeping me busy probably until the end of the year. I’m trying to make sure that I clear out time to just be not-productive; it seems to help. (Video games and horror TV, yay; I keep getting recommendations for a couple of things, so I’m bumping them up the list.)

Sent a withdrawal to what I’m pretty sure is a dead market this morning, which is never a particularly cheerful event. Still, I got two stories out today, and am going to be aiming for more.

Touching base

Well, seven months into lockdown. That feels a lot less weighty than six months – unsurprising, given that it’s not an especially neat fraction of a year – but I do kind of miss summer.

We went to a drive-in over the weekend! Apparently one opened up ten minutes from home, and I missed hearing about it until the season was nearly over. The screen wasn’t quite as large as the drive-in we went to last year (my first time ever), but… hours spent out of the house. For fun. It was kind of lovely.

Managed to pick up Wasteland 3 again over the weekend (I ended up putting it down for nearly a month), and it’s… I mean, part of it may be that I was forgetting to specifically schedule leisure as a thing that had to get done, but it’s really a lot of fun. It’s also one of the few longer games where I feel like I really want to play through again and try substantially different choices.

(Nothing that supports slavers, though. There are lines beyond which fun is not had, dammit, at least not for me.)

I did not think it would go on this long.

Six months ago today I called in sick to work. I had been trying to focus all day the day before, and I had been failing more miserably than I can tell. The plan was to go over to a friend’s for dinner, and we all got in touch with each other and agreed that it was probably a good idea to cancel.

And that was Friday (the 13th, hah), and the weekend was weird and tense, and by the time Monday rolled around lockdown was in full effect. There was still snow on the ground.

And really, I don’t quite feel like summer happened (a very common sentiment, from what I hear), and now we’re sliding down into fall again. I love fall, but I wish I could have a chance to enjoy it without all the worry.

So many questionable choices.

I am playing Wasteland 3, as one does, and I just really want to say I appreciate the richly textured setting and all the opportunities you have for terrible, terrible decisions.

Want to have your armory run by the local crime cartel? Want to then upset that local cartel by shooting one of the lieutenants? You can do that! (In my defense, I mean, the lieutenant wanted me to pick on the movie monsters. There are limits, I tell you.)

Want to invite a fourth-generation clone of the great scientific villain who tried to wipe out humanity and invite him to work in your medical lab? Also possible! It’s probably okay, he says the genocidal impulses were nurture rather than nature, and he’s a scientist! He would know.

Want to help the robot figure out how to defend other robots by removing his empathy for humanity? You can do that too! I am sure this will have no negative consequences down the line whatsoever. >beams<

I’m having fun, all told. Now, having mortally offended the religious order of the wives of Reagan, I just need to go pick which character gets to use the self-inserting spinal implant from the robot doctor whose assistant we convinced to run away to freedom.

Odd little memory from the middle of March

I got to go in to the office yesterday. (I say “got to” because when I found out about it, my reaction was similar to the reaction of the dog if you ask her if she wants to go for a walk. I like where I work.)

So I went in and said hello to reception from a safe distance and through the plexiglas shield, and then went up to the fourth floor where I was the only person, and turned on the lights, and filed stuff and restarted my computer and packed up some things from my hutch that didn’t come home in the first emergency wave. And I left after 45 minutes.

(The sign-in sheet said that there was one other person in the building, but they were on the second floor so I didn’t see them.)

I have missed work. I like everyone there, and I love being part of what we do. I’m working from home, so I’m still doing something, but I really miss seeing people and saying hello and listening to conversations in the kitchen while I knit and… just people.

I called in sick on Friday the 13th, so my desk was very “this is the middle of the work-week”. The calendar pages for March and April (because of course I put current-month and next-month there for tracking at a glance) were still taped up to my hutch.

It was very much a reminder of what-was-normal-before that I wasn’t expecting, and it’s left me a bit melancholy.

Of emptiness and salvage.

My story “The Draw of Empty Spaces” is out now in issue 3 of Cossmass Infinities, which you can get here (although if you subscribe it should already be in your inbox, which is very nice). It is a story of someone doing salvage work in a ruined city, alone and then not alone.

This is my second time appearing in the magazine and I am honestly very pleased to be there again, and to be in the company of those other stories. I hope you enjoy them all.

Things I was extremely pleased to hear.

This is slightly belated, because I got the news and then came down with something icky, but:

“Ink, and Breath, and Spring” (initially published in issue 40 of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and reprinted in episode 637 of PodCastle) will be appearing in The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2020. I’m in the TOC and everything.

Cover of the Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2020

I am over the moon.

Pencil points and nail polish.

In what is probably not the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind upon reading that title, I have been cleaning and repairing window screens today. (You use the pencil points to poke the broken screen wires back into place, and the nail polish to seal the hole.) It’s not the only thing I’ve done, but it’s definitely what I can point to as a concrete accomplishment.

I have definitely hit that point of the pandemic where decluttering has turned into a Thing. That said, I have also hit the point of decluttering where I’ve run out of boxes to put stuff into, so it’s a little harder to measure how the progress has been going lately.

I’m reading again, which is nice, and I started writing an odd little thing today. I’m not entirely sure where it’s going, but I don’t think it’ll be long to finish a first draft.

And in other news, I am seriously starting to wonder what Hallowe’en is going to look like this year. I don’t think trick-or-treating is going to be at all recognizable.

August. How did *that* happen?

I have to say I am very glad that today is the start of a long weekend.

I got some edits in last week, I decluttered a bit yesterday, and today I appear to actually be getting my browser windows under some kind of control. I’ve nearly reknitted the part of the sweater I had to frog. And also I’ve gotten the first submission of the month out!