Trisennight, short

(Yes, nearly three weeks since I’ve posted. That said, I find sennight to be a rather lovely word.)

A quick roundup, definitely not in order;

  • I finished edits on one of my accepted stories, and it’s currently with the copy-editor.
  • I developed double tennis elbow, which has slowed my typing down quite a lot. It is currently being alleviated by a little nailgun-like object that, instead of nails, fires pulses of pure sound. (Cue another chorus of “I love living in the future.”)
  • The light of my life got me two bottles of wine of a kind I have been trying to get for the better part of a month, and (even better!) a print of the Sockdolager cover in which my story appeared! (The entire magazine is free to read online, but the first link is to the store where you can see the print cover which you may buy. The second link is to my story, and you can find all the rest of the issue there.) I am plotting which wall to put it on. There are many options.
  • I got a small birdcage for my Venus Flytrap at the dollar store. (The cats have a great interest in Venus Flytraps. It’s how the last one died. I am hoping that the birdcage will serve as a protective enclosure for Seymour 2. (It is a spooky birdcage, all in black with “bars” that mimic a spiderweb. (The dollar store is a great proponent of Hallowe’en goods.)))
  • I decided that I am not going to the convention I had earlier planned to attend. I am a little sad, although a lot of that has to do with not getting to go on a trip. Have made plans to attend a different con, though.
  • I watched the Hugo Awards. I do wish I could have made it to WorldCon for many reasons (postapocalyptic smoke being among them), but I am glad for everyone there who had a good time.
  • I have been mildly astounded by the resiliency of the morning glory plant on the balcony. It was wilting and dying, and its stem was broken in half sometime last week, for which I blame a squirrel. Since then, with no connection to its roots and with leaves that resemble peels of green paint, it has put out six blossoms.
  • I got a full centiBrad’s worth of rejections, and submitted the same number of stories.
  • I have turned my sleep schedule into something resembling Swiss cheese.
  • I got close enough to both a young bluejay and a downy woodpecker that I think I could have taken decent pictures of them if I’d had a camera handy (and, you know, all the chops to use it). The bluejay in particular was fun to watch; he was making strident and typical bluejay sounds, and rather confused sounds, and some very brave attempts at raucous noise that trailed off into a hesitant stutter.

So those are all things.

Prompter attempts to update will be forthcoming. The Swiss cheese issue needs addressing first, though.

Travel planning

I’ve got a couple of trips planned before the end of the year, and I’m feeling that usual slight giddiness that comes with the prospect of going somewhere far enough away that there will actually be packing.

(I wanted to include a picture from Diana Nock and Ryan Estrada’s excellent Poorcraft: Wish You Were Here, but I couldn’t find anything about permission to do that, so I decided not to. Penny and Nickel packing are adorable, though.)

Weirdly, I think it is far enough away and not for long enough. I realize that needing to e.g. stay at over at someone’s house or in a local hotel if my street was evacuated or some family event was happening might also necessitate packing, but that does not spark the same gleeful anticipation.

That said, it might also be a factor of free time as well as a factor of distance. A trip generally connotes arranging things so that you have no or fewer pre-existing commitments during the time period; for an emergency evacuation, you haven’t had a chance to free up your schedule, and for a scheduled family event you’ve probably substituted new commitments for existing ones.

That said, I do look forward to scheduled family events in other cities. Perhaps it’s because I’m not likely to go to another city just for the family event, and so scheduled events in another city tend to bring free time along with them?

(Ramble over.)

I like packing. (I suspect this is in some way related to the fact that I like sending and receiving physical mail.) I find that if I haven’t travelled in a while, I tend to overpack, but I’m still expecting to be able to comfortably restrict myself to carry-on for a week’s trip.

I am also going to a convention. It is a small convention, for a weekend. It will be trivial to restrict myself to a carry-on bag for the trip out. It might be a little harder to make sure I do not come home with an uncomfortable amount more than I set out with. However, I am sure I will manage.


On a writing note: I’ve been trying to start getting up early in the morning to write before work. Recently Cat Rambo suggested not allowing yourself to check your e-mail before you’d written 500 words, and adding in that parameter does seem to have helped a bit. Will see how things progress in the coming weeks; a two-day bump in word count is not a magic bullet, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

(I am also not a morning person. There is something of a learning curve associated with this “remembering to go to bed at an hour that takes the planned time of rising into account” thing.)

On a convention note: I am not going to WorldCon this year. I am not. I understand this, and have accepted it, but it makes me very sad. That said, I am hoping to be at at least one local con this fall.

On a work note: I am slowly settling into the idea of having vacation days. It’s interesting, in terms of potential. I’m very used to work with a definite end date, and the idea of definitely being able to take time off and come back after a break–a break I am allowed, no less–is something I’m looking forward to.


Mayyyybe… you’ll think of me…

PIPBoyThe light of my life got me a PIP-Boy.

I’d explain, but there is too much. Let me sum up.

Lo these many years ago, I ran across a computer RPG called Fallout. It was a retrofuturistic[1] post-apocalyptic game, in which you travel out from the great underground Vault where your people have lived for generations to find a replacement for the chip for the water purifier.

It spoiled me, in a lot of ways. (I used to approach other games just naturally expecting that I could play a female character unless there was a reason, and expecting many-many-lots options for how to deal with problems. Fallout, I love you–I have loved you for many years–but you’re probably a chunk of the reason that shooters bore me to tears.)

Anyway. The characters–the protagonists you play, I mean–have a PIP-Boy; a Personal Information Processor Boy, which keeps track of such useful in-game things as inventory and quests and maps and the like. (In Fallout, there were buttons to pick the various options. The button for “Clue” had been ripped out, and the label had been near-completely scratched off.) The PIP-Boy is… it’s as iconic as the whip of Indiana Jones, the pipe of Sherlock Holmes, the sonic screwdriver of the Doctor.

pip-boyThe collector’s edition of Fallout 4[2] comes with a PIP-Boy, and you can put little foam inserts in it so whatever phone you have fits in there. I wanted one. I really really wanted one. I am being fiscally responsible, and held off.

And the light of my life brought me a PIP-Boy created on a 3D printer specifically to fit my phone, that I get to paint all by myself. I can even add little LEDs, too. And it’s light enough I can wear it, and it fits, and…

I have a PIP-Boy.

[1] Ray guns? Yes. Super-mutants? Yes. Cellphones and LCD monitors? God no, no-one’s ever seen one of those.
[2] Finally. …I still have a spare copy of Fallout: New Vegas to give away, by the way! Only on Steam, though.

Speaking of the Hugos

Ann Leckie receiving her Hugo at the LonCon 3 award ceremony in 2014.
Ann Leckie receiving her Hugo at the LonCon 3 award ceremony in 2014.

Was reading one of (many, many) online discussions of the Hugos and SFF fandom the other day, and it was mentioned that a surprisingly high number of people aren’t aware they they’re not a juried award.

So, to be explicit:

If you are a fan of science fiction and fantasy, you can buy a Worldcon membership.[1] That lets you nominate on and vote for the Hugos.

The ballot is already set for this year; it’s here. But a supporting membership to Worldcon still lets you vote to rank the works on the ballot, and nominate works for the ballot for next year.

You certainly don’t have to, but you can.

[1] Okay, I mean, technically if you’re a legal person who can buy things, you can buy a Worldcon membership, but I can’t imagine why you would buy it if it wasn’t from an interest in the genre.

Mnemosyne will this offset.

Bouncing around links, as one does, I ran across this post and while I am not currently speaking to the second point of the post[1], I think the first point is extremely on-point:

When you read an x-men book today, you’re not reading it because of what is in the actual book–you’re reading it because it’s the X-men and the feeling it gives you reminds you of positive memories you have of the very best of the x-men stories.

(No, obviously not exclusively!) But.

I read that and I remembered trying to explain what I felt about the second Hobbit movie, and why I’m probably going to go see the third. It wasn’t that it was good, really. It wasn’t that it was deeply moving, or well-paced. And I was trying to explain my reaction after and what I came out with was “It’s not that it’s good! It’s that it looks close enough to something that was good, when I read it when I was a kid, that I can use that to get back to how awesome it was back then.”

It’s like air being blown into a bouncy castle. >.> (An incredibly dignified image, I am sure you will agree.) It doesn’t have to be good air. It doesn’t have to have the whisper of summer-evening meadow-flowers, or the far-off breath of the sea, or have strains of far-off dwarven chanting[2]. It needs to be uncorrosive enough to not rot the bouncy castle from the inside-out. (And a nozzle that matches the valve on the bouncy-castle, I am sure, but here the metaphor is getting overcomplicated again.)

Just figured I would note down that particular case of a well-articulated point that clicked for me, because it is so bloody frustrating to not be able to set something out clearly.

[1] I am not disagreeing that it amy lead to a non-aspirational escapism, but I am disagreeing that a non-aspirational escapism deserves to be called “the worst” kind. But at that point you get into judging the values of escapism in terms of personal growth vs expansion of perception vs self-care, and I absolutely do not have time to do that at this point, so I will end this footnote now.
[2] “Gold, gold, gold, gold.”

Coming in fast, because music.

I mean, look at this cover.
I mean, look at this cover.

Because rock’n’roll.

It’s been a really stressful few weeks, and I haven’t been saying much. (I got bitten by a German Shepherd last month, did I mention? Stupid owner.) I’ve been low on time and low on energy, but I ran across something and thought I should mention:

I ran into The Truth of Rock and Roll. (Scroll down.)

I’ve been tired enough that it’s been easy to drop onto TV Tropes and let it eat my attention and my time for fifteen, twenty minutes at a stretch (which is really longer than I’d like right now), and I wandered onto the page for The Truth of Rock and Roll, and…

At first I thought it sounded twee. But the tropes page mentioned a shout-out to that much-loved-by-me Walter-Hill-scored-by-Jim-Steinman this-is-where-the-80s-gets-kidnapped-by-the-70s-and-saved-by-the-50s heartsong of a movie Streets of Fire, and mentioned it was serialized on the author’s blog. And I figured, well, I’d take a quick look. Blogs are easier for me to read than ebooks, and if it’s serialized it’ll have natural breaking points, won’t take up too much time.

(It starts here, by the way. Five parts.)

Take a look.

Airport thoughts

I may have overpacked…

I may have overpacked for con. I brought my laptop, and while it was reassuring for chat and the Skype was awesome and I was very happy to be able to play “Put Out the Lights of London City” several times, I just did not have time to use it much. Could have used phone and Bluetooth keyboard to much the same effect.

I may have underpacked for travel (just a backpack for carry-on). That’s a comfortable amount of clothing for four-ish days, but being here longer than that meant either hand-done laundry or hotel laundering. I am fine with hand-done laundry, FTR – something something knitting, after all – but I was very busy and the sink was tiny, so I used the hotel laundering and Jesus bleeding Christ that was expensive. Could have saved by packing just a little more.

(I may do that next time. There was actually no trouble on the flight out at all, which has made me worry about checking things rather less.)

I’m running on eight hours sleep since Saturday morning, though, so I think further articulation will need to wait a bit.

In transit!

Currently sitting in Detroit, watching everything go by. The Gadgets To Go store where I was going to try and get an SD card for the camera had been replaced by a Coffee Beanery, so still no joy on that.

I had a bagel. I’m not hungry, but I know I’m not likely to get anything except possibly airplane breakfast for ten hours, by which point it will be lunchtime, and I suspect the not being hungry might be a touch of a headcold. Will probably eat and get a warm drink on the general principle of it being good for me, even if I’m not feeling it.

The windows are a little tinted (actually, it looks like they’re ZipToned, but you know what I mean, right?), so it’s hard to tell exactly, but it looks like there is some serious rain coming in; there are slate-gray clouds overhead, and they’re reaching all the way to the treeline in one corner of the window. I will not be surprised if there is a delay; there is always a delay, and the fact that there hasn’t really been one yet (we got in to Detroit ~half an hour late, but whatever) means I am waiting for the hammer to fall.

If there is a delay, I will cope. I have my laptop, my phone, thirty new magazines plus a Wasteland novella on my ereader, and knitting that I might feel more up to addressing once I get yet more orange juice. I’ve had four glasses of it since lunch. Also a complete willingness to ignore all these and doze if that is what will make me feel better. So, you know.

(I realize this is kind of boring, but typing helps me relax. So.)

I didn’t read Heinlein.

Not the edition I would have picked up in the bookshop.
Not the edition I would have picked up in that bookshop.

Okay, that’s a lie. I read a Heinlein novel during a university course on science fiction. It was Starship Troopers, and it was contrasted with Haldeman’s Forever War. And I may have read part of The Puppet Masters, but since I only remember a bit about how some clothing (hats? coats? tops?) was being outlawed, it is more probable that I just picked it up at the neighbourhood secondhand bookstore and read a few pages. I liked to hang around the SF section and do that sometimes, and it’s left me with an eclectic collection of snippets–that bit, something about a Doctor Who novelization in which a villain had attached a canister of horrible mutagen to Peri[1], and a rich tourist who went to the Savage Theme Park of New York and was stuck there after it was closed for the season.

(Those bits are rather vague, since I would have been between seven and eleven at the time–more than two decades ago.)

But when I was growing up, I didn’t read Heinlein.

I have been thinking, lately, about a line from Toni Weisskopf’s blog post, “The Problem of Engagement,” which runs:

Well, Heinlein is one of the few points of reference those fans who read have. Of course we all read Heinlein and have an opinion about his work. How can you be a fan and not?

I am a fan who reads; horror by first choice, yes, but I always read SF and fantasy when there wasn’t enough horror around. I have loved Worlds-That-Are-Not (or Worlds-That-Are-Not-Quite) for many many years, and I found them through books. I have been, I would have said, one of those “fans who read” for a very long time.

But I didn’t read Heinlein.

See, the first time I picked up Heinlein with a recognition of who the author was supposed to be (this name I’d heard about, seen on book spines, was told was incomparable), in the hope that I would enjoy it? I would have been about twelve; my family was in Algeria at the time, and the English fiction library we had access to was in a repurposed basement. The entirety of the genre section was a single bookshelf, and I made a heartfelt effort to go through all of it.

This, on the other hand, is the exact edition of Phantoms I read in that library.

I’m going to digress for a moment, and talk about Dean Koontz.

I discovered Dean Koontz and Stephen King on that same bookshelf (while I’d seen a secondhand hardcover of Cujo a few years earlier, I hadn’t been allowed to read it). Dean Koontz was easier to get a hold of, and often more snappily paced, and I would guess I read a good twenty or so of his books in the next few years. I probably overdid it, and I’d occasionally joke about how I could summarize the commonalities of plot of his novels in a single sentence. I got bored with him, and quit reading. (I’m drifting back, now, but that’s another story.)


When I was twelve, when I was bored and had basically no-one to talk to, when I was starving for something to read and I went through that bookcase, here is what I found in the first handful of pages:

  • The first Heinlein novel I picked up, I read about a guy watching his daughter strip her top off and being proud that she was checking with her husband instead of with him to be sure it was okay.
  • The first Koontz novel I picked up, I read about a doctor who was taking care of her little sister and who’d bluffed an evil biker gang leader[2] into believing that she was too damn scary to mess with.

Goddamn right I wasn’t interested in more Heinlein. And my take on his work is and remains “I don’t know it,” and I don’t think that’s informed or detailed enough to count as an opinion.

And when I was back in Canada… well, I met other people I could talk to about this genre thing, and we swapped recommendations, and I know some of them liked Heinlein but none of them ever made anything he’d written sound cool enough for me to bump him onto my must-read list. And then there were things like university and work and now, sad as it makes me, I don’t have the time to read that I used to. For a little while in eighth grade I was getting through five books a week. These days I’m lucky to clear eighty books a year.

It doesn’t make me happy, but I can live with that.

So when it comes to the question of

Of course we all read Heinlein and have an opinion about his work. How can you be a fan and not?

It’s not that hard. You just find other things that suit you better, and listen for things that people describe in such a way that they sound actually enjoyable, and you don’t have unlimited time.

And to that, Weisskopf wrote:

So the question arises—why bother to engage these people at all? They are not of us. They do not share our values, they do not share our culture.

I can live with that, too. And my reaction to that is much the same as my reaction when I put down Number of the Beast. I don’t have time for this, I have not seen enough to suggest I will enjoy this, and so I will leave this behind and go find something that will brighten or deepen or enrich my day.

And if that decision means I am not of your culture, that I do not share your values, I am sure we will both be much happier for it.

[1] Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work. If I recall correctly, the mutagen canister was removed from where it was attached to Peri’s belt, and was ?thrown? at the villain, where it interacted with a wooden stake he was standing near. The mutagen then worked on the wooden stake, causing it to explode outwards into a spiky lattice of stake-y wood and skewer the villain to death.
[2] I am not saying Phantoms was particularly nuanced. (Jeter, the man in question, is further developed later in the novel. I would say the development was done to add horror, not subtlety or multi-faceted characterization.)