[syndicated profile] seattlereviewofbooks_feed

Each week, Christine Larsen creates a portrait of a new author for us. Have any favorites you’d love to see immortalized? Let us know

Thursday July 27th: Among the Living and the Dead Reading

University of Iowa creative nonfiction writer Inara Verzemnieks reads from her new family history, Among the Living and the Dead: A Tale of Exile and Homecoming on the War Roads of Europe. It’s a story of how her family traveled from Latvia to Washington state, where she was raised.

Seattle Public Library, 1000 4th Ave., 386-4636, http://spl.org. Free. All ages. 7 p.m.


7/27/17 05:51 pm
kass: glasses of pink wine (rose)
[personal profile] kass
1. Friends who love me even when I'm having a terrible day.

2. The "New Beginnings" playlist that [personal profile] heresluck made for me last year, to which I am listening even now.

3. Setting a pretty Shabbat table for tomorrow night.

4. The many excellent things that have been recommended to me in the last 24 hours! I devoured The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe (a truly lovely novella) last night, and am now beginning to read Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman, which, um, yeah.

5. I'm gonna pour myself a glass of pink wine, because it's wine o'clock, y'all.

Another photo-D.O.P.-T.

7/27/17 01:13 pm
weofodthignen: selfportrait with Rune the cat (Default)
[personal profile] weofodthignen
Doesn't look at all to me like "restoration and adaptive re-use" is what is planned.

stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
[personal profile] stardreamer
The following was originally posted by Daniel on Slacktivist, and is being reproduced here by permission.

* * *

North America

The North American country of the United States of America (USA) was shocked yesterday by the announcement by the President, Donald Trump, a colorful and outspoken reality television star and business-tycoon manqué, that he would strip the right to serve in the nation's armed services from its transgender citizens.

The country, sandwiched between Canada and Mexico and famous as the birthplace of KerPlunk, has for many years been under the influence of a religious sect opposed to modern science, preferring its own superstitious interpretations of gender and sexuality and the military to facts. Among their beliefs is the conviction that electricity, a gift from their God, can be used to permanently alter the sexuality of individuals subject to ritual shocks. While Trump is not himself a member of this sect, many of his supporters and cabinet are - the Vice President, Mike Pence, believes that electrocution and denial of civil rights can "cure" people of their sexual and/or gender identity, for instance, and has been known to conduct rituals seeking to influence the behaviors of his people and indeed entire nations through supernatural means. He is also reported to believe his own "sexual magic" is so strong that to be left alone with a woman he is not married to would lead to inevitable intercourse. Experts speculate this is because in the culture of the sect his silver hair is seen as a sign of divine favor. It is hard to think that in the twenty-first century such beliefs could exist, but this country - still dealing with the consequences of a bitter and bloody civil war and struggling to shed the influence of more than a century of colonialism - is steeped in such superstition.

The President, who has a history of vocal support for wars and the people that fight them - amongst whose numbers he has never been included due to a debilitating recurrent foot complaint - is thought to have made this decision to pander to this sect to receive funding for his own passion project, a great wall separating his increasingly isolated country from Mexico. Though he promised to make the Mexican government pay for it, this was seen in Mexico City as merely bombastic boasting and was met with diplomatic derision. It has now become clear that this was an accurate assessment, and Trump has gone cap in hand to sectarian members of the governing Republican Party to beg for funds for his grandiose white elephant.

While it is characteristic of the regime, which rose to power on a wave of populist resentment and tribal grievance, to not know how policies announced by their President will be effected, it appears not to be troubling his inner circle; in the so-called "White House", or presidential residence, where Trump himself is seen as something like a demi-god, his name cast in enormous gold letters on various sacred sites across the country is deemed to be a powerful influencer of the spirits of wealth and "class" - a peculiar concept something akin to the more familiar machismo though coupled with a deep seated anti-intellectualism and contempt for internal monologue. Indeed, it is thought that simply by saying things Trump is able to make them physically real, and the less proof his followers demand the greater they consider themselves blessed by him.

What is also not clear at this moment is how it will effect the members of the armed services who are currently serving and who are transgender. As there appears to be a reliance on the metaphysical abilities of Trump to alter reality with 140 characters at a time - an extension of the sect's peculiar faith in the power of electricity - and nothing more, it is not certain if the people targeted by his declaration will be fired, or forced back into the closet, or subject to other and worse discrimination. What is certain though is that through his influence and the influence of his cult, the President will have sent a message that the god a significant proportion of the people believe in wants them to discriminate against their fellow citizens.

In a statement today the organization Democracy Within Borders responded:

"It is tempting to look on this benighted and atavistic society governed by an exotic death cult, determined to harm its own people in celebration of their idol, a man cast in gold whom they revere as both its product and its source, with the prurient interest we use for other ex-colonial nations, as a setting for our horror films and travel writing. We should not. The majority of the citizens do not belong to the tribe of their leaders, a fact reflected in the election, in which his opponent received a higher number of votes than he did, that secured the Presidency for Trump."

The peculiar formulation of democracy in the country - a reaction to the government of its former colonizers - means that now in power Trump has called for the arrest and imprisonment of his opponent, for crimes he cannot name nor explain. It is not clear if this is the result of a taboo or géis, or of his paranoia that the legal system of the country might do its job correctly. It appears he believes millions of phantoms cast votes for his opponent, though without being able to ensure her victory. The statement continued:

"It is hoped that the two advanced nations bordering the USA will intervene to try and help those harmed by this decision. In this day and age a nation proclaiming itself great cannot treat its citizens in this way based on crude self-interest and superstition."

* * *

D.O.P.-T. (yesterday)

7/27/17 01:02 pm
weofodthignen: selfportrait with Rune the cat (Default)
[personal profile] weofodthignen
Internet!!! (16 days of outage.)

I hope there will be no more need for this:

Orbit US turns 10

7/27/17 03:56 pm
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll

Over the last decade, Orbit US, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, has quickly established itself as one of the premiere publishers of science fiction and fantasy, and a reliable source for everything from innovative works of science fiction to blockbuster epic fantasies. To celebrate the milestone, a selection of landmark Orbit titles is currently available on Nook for just $2.99 each, but we wanted to do more than point you toward some great titles, so we asked Orbit’s publisher, Tim Holman, to share a bit of history. Below his comments, you’ll find a timeline of key dates in Orbit’s history.

<a href="https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/orbit-books-turns-10-take-look-decade-milestones/>More here</a>
[syndicated profile] seattlereviewofbooks_feed

Every month, Daneet Steffens uncovers the latest goings on in mystery, suspense, and crime fiction. See previous columns on the Criminal Fiction archive page

A gleeful moment catching a fictional private investigator in the act of comfort-reading an Elmore Leonard novel had me rushing off to re-visit this fun guide to writing. From "Never open a book with weather," all the way to "Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip," and with a loving nod to the power of hooptedoodle, Leonard’s teasing, detailed advice is pure pleasure.

Reading around: new titles on the crime fiction scene

A car crash has crippled Jane Norton with severe amnesia and left her passenger, David Hall, very much dead in Blame by Jeff Abbott (Grand Central). A note, found on the scene, indicated a suicide attempt on Jane’s part that apparently went horribly wrong. As the book opens, on the second anniversary of the crash, a new note turns up and Abbott’s perfectly-paced thriller catches literary fire, crackling along with a nicely-meshed Jason Bourne-I Know What You Did Last Summer vibe. With Jane’s memory full of gaping holes — she remembers her favorite books, from A Wrinkle in Time to the magical reads of Edward Eager and Lloyd Alexander, but blanks on the accident — we’ve got a literal unreliable narrator on our hands. Abbott, a deft and nimble writer, skillfully steers us through small-community pettinesses and pressures, as well as, yes, the dark evil that lurks — all too often, it seems — deep in suburban territory.

London detective Maeve Kerrigan is back on the case in Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey (Minotaur). A claustrophobically-short street provides the immersive setting for a bloody crime scene: there’s a profusion of blood, in fact, but the killer appears to have absconded with the corpse. Kerrigan and her team, including fresh meat Georgia Shaw who can’t quite land on Kerrigan’s good side, tangle with a sullen young man with a history of violence, two vulnerable teenage girls, and a family of evangelicals that includes a couple of brothers with some serious sibling rivalry issues. Kerrigan’s ability to home in on people’s deepest, most destructive qualities as well as their inevitable Achilles’ heels — “her trick of understanding more than she should,” as one character notes – keeps the tension level high. Kerrigan and her colleagues’ ability to banter about things like, say, the stability of eyeball fluid when it comes to sampling for the presence of drugs, keeps everything else grounded in grisly police procedural reality.

Michael Connelly adds the excellent Detective Renée Ballard to his stable of engaging protagonists in The Late Show (Little, Brown), and, thanks to Connelly’s concise and empathetic writing, Ballard arrives fully-formed, with a heady sense of familiarity about her. Ballard, recently relegated to the night shift (“the late show”) due to illicit politicking by another officer, chases up a credit card robbery, a near-fatal beating, and a “four on the floor” nightclub shooting, which all kick off over a busy night’s work and then overshadow her sleep-deprived days. In between her investigations, she tries to chill out with her paddleboard – there are canny surfing and journalism elements to her backstory – her loyal pooch and her loving grandmother, but much of the book’s blistering action is based around Ballard pursuing the baddies while fighting off some nasty colleagues who have it in for her. Detective Ballard is off to a winning start: she may be short of sleep, but she’s already a legend.

In The Breakdown by B.A. Paris (St. Martin’s), Cass’s apparent dream of a life deteriorates quite quickly when she notices a woman in a car on a lonely stretch of road, and then that woman turns up murdered. Cass has a wonderful husband, a fiercely loyal best friend and a supportive group of colleagues, but the unexpected death plays on her mind and her emotions. Exacerbating an already stressful situation is the fact that her mother died from early-onset dementia and — a fumbled BBQ date here, a slip of memory around a gift there — Cass quickly becomes convinced that she’s suffering from the same familial memory issues. Behind Closed Doors, Paris’s 2016 psychological thriller debut, was one of the more terrifying reads of the year; this follow-up isn’t quite as edgy, but it’s highly engaging nonetheless.

The Quintessential Interview: Bill Loehfelm

Bill Loehfelm’s New Orleans police officer, Maureen Coughlin, like Loehfelm himself, relocated from Staten Island to The Big Easy where she’s already gappled with high-level corruption as well as more general criminal activities. In The Devil’s Muse, out this month from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and taking place over the course of a single, tension-tattered night bang-smack in the middle of NOLA’s Mardi Gras festivities, Coughlin has her patience tested by a documentary filmmaker, a nasty new street drug, a neighborhood shooting, and some of her more surly colleagues. Excellent stuff.

What or who are your top five writing inspirations?

I get a lot of inspiration from movies, actually. Both old favorites and something new that really kicks my ass, especially if it has killer dialog.

Songwriters, too. Someone like Jason Isbell, who I’ve been big into lately, can get a whole novel into a four-minute song. That amazes me. When I hear it done well, it makes me want to get to work. Every time I see my friend Kelcy Mae play music, songs that she wrote, I want to go home and write.

My wife, AC, is a great writer and an indefatigable worker. I always want to make sure I’m pulling my weight around the house.

Seeing other artists at the top of their game is always a challenge and inspiration.

And two weird stories I grew up with – Batman and King Kong. Something about those two stories, those two American myths, it’s like there’s something mystical I’m always trying to pull out of them.

Top five places to write?

The last few books I’ve written exclusively at home since I work on a desktop. We have a sunroom at the back of the apartment that works great as an office: it’s almost all windows, and we call it “the lighthouse.”

I take my editing on the road, though. I live in a coffee shop rich neighborhood and I can walk to a handful. My favorite is the Rue de la Course on Magazine Street, which, after a few misguided years as a restaurant, is a coffee shop again.

I like Mojo on the corner of Magazine and Race, too – which many years ago was the original Rue. There’s a cool place on Magazine called the Reservoir, but that’s more of a crepe place now.

Every now and then I hit HiVolt, but like a lot of the new school coffee shops, they close early.

Top five favorite authors?

Picking only five is impossible. Kate Atkinson is the first one that comes to mind. She’s a stone genius. Megan Abbott has done some of the best work of the last ten years that I’ve come across.

Donna Tartt is in a class by herself.

And JK Rowling has to be in there, too. I love her books as Robert Galbraith as well as that other thing she did. I’ll read anything she writes.

And Alice Sebold, too, who I always forget to mention when I make these lists. I’ve worked real hard to imitate her voice over the years. There’s just an edge that she has. I hope to God she writes another book.

Top five tunes to write to?

For the Maureen Coughlin books I lean a lot on local stuff: A small sample:

  • “Criminal” — The Revivalists (I write to a lot of their material)
  • “Ice Age” — Dr. John
  • “Night People” — the Soul Rebels Brass Band
  • “The Corner” — Galactic w/Gift of Gab
  • “Power” — Juvenile (w/Rick Ross).

Top five hometown spots?

My screened-in porch.

Joey K’s, a restaurant in the neighborhood where we can get an outside table on the corner. I have lunch there almost every Tuesday with friends who are also self-employed artists.

Tipitina’s for live music any time of year.

The Fair Grounds, where they have Jazz Fest every spring – my high, holy season.

Audubon Park, especially the Tree of Life where I married my wife.

[syndicated profile] seattlereviewofbooks_feed

Today the Seattle Review of Books celebrates its second birthday — two years of publishing original writing about books with a uniquely Seattle flavor. To honor the anniversary, the site’s co-founders met up in their favorite habitat, a Slack channel, for a wide-ranging conversation about the city, its writers and readers, and the future of book reviewing.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of joining a conversation with Paul Constant and Martin McClellan, I hope you enjoy the one below as much as I did. A relative newcomer to the site, I went in with a sheaf of notes and an immaculate interview plan. Ninety minutes later I staggered out, slightly stunned but delighted — and eager to see what Seattle’s most passionate book nerds take on next.

Congratulations! Two years, almost 200 reviews! And all sorts of interviews and notes. Probably thousands. Too many to count.

Paul: Thanks! These last two years seem to have gone by so fast.

Martin: It's a little more than 2,000 notes, interviews, columns, and such.

Paul: Sometimes I look at my author page and try to figure out how I found the time to write all that.

Martin: I can now confess I helped start the site just so I could read Paul's writing more. It was entirely selfish.

It’s an obvious place to start, which isn’t at all in the spirit of the site — but I love the story and you just gave me an opening, so let’s do it anyway. How did the Seattle Review of Books get launched?

Paul: I’ve told this story a few times, and it’s slightly different every time. I’d be curious to hear Martin’s version.

Martin: I actually was a big fan of Paul's writing at the Stranger. I ran into him a few times around town and we struck up a friendship. At the time I was working for a media company, so we had things in common other than loving books.

When he left the Stranger I sent a joke tweet his way that he should start the Seattle Review of Books. We met up to have dinner a bit later, and the joke got a bit more serious. I guess, as Al Franken puts it, I was kidding on the square.

Sitting there at Le Pichet I looked up the domain registry for seattlereviewofbooks.com, and was shocked to find that nobody had ever bought it. We jokingly made an agreement that we’d co-own the URL, and Paul handed me some cash. We shook hands, and I bought it.

We sat on it for a bit, kind of sending notes back and forth like "Well, if we did, what if we . . . ?" and to our immense pleasure (or, at least mine), all of our ideas were simpatico. So we talked more seriously, then each put some money in and defined what our roles would be, and started building the site you're reading now.

Paul: Yeah, my version of the story involves a car chase and some microfiche stashed into a hairbrush handle, but that’s about the gist of it.

I want to be clear, though: Martin came up with the name of the site, he built it with his own two hands, he designed it. Without him, the Seattle Review of Books wouldn’t exist. I’d probably have a Tumblr called “Paul’s Bookish Musings” or something like that and it would be red type on a black background and nobody would ever read it.

Beyond no one owning the name or the domain yet — what was the thing you were trying to make, that nobody else had made?

Martin: I would have read it. But I would have complained about the typography.

The thing, I think, that we both wanted was a place that celebrated writing and lit culture in Seattle as a primary thing. Not as an afterthought or a tie-in.

We both wanted a place that celebrated writing and lit culture in Seattle as a primary thing. Not as an afterthought or a tie-in.

Paul: Yeah, exactly.

After nearly two decades here, I know that Seattle is the best, most interesting literary city in the United States. At the same time, I was seeing nearly every outlet diminish or eliminate their books coverage.

Martin: I loved the way Paul always said it: that we wanted to reflect the average Seattle reader’s shelf. So, comics next to "serious" novels, next to fun reads next to poetry. Diverse, and geared towards the interest of a general reader.

Paul: Seattle has the best readers in the country, too, for sure.

Martin: For sure! And the most fun-loving book crowd. It's very open and accepting of everybody, and there's something happening every night.

Paul: You know, I don’t think I’ve talked about this with Martin, but I had a real anxiety that in twenty years someone would move to Seattle and start a publishing company and they’d not know about the rich history they were building on.

A lot of Seattle’s literary history is just missing. Unless you’re talking about Raymond Carver or Richard Hugo, a lot of those figures are starting to disappear into the mists of time.

I think something we’re doing here is making a record: This is what Seattle was like at this time. These are the people who made Seattle such a terrific place to live. These are the writers who maybe never scored a giant publishing contract but who were making incredible pieces of work. They existed, they mattered, and they added to this amazing continuum.

So sometimes I’m not even writing for the audience right now. I’m recording something for posterity.

Martin: When we were starting the site, I was talking to typographer John D. Berry, and he was telling me about publishing the Pacific Northwest Review of Books in the early seventies. That history is missing, there's so much still to capture!

Paul: Yeah, and there’s maybe one copy of that Review in Knute Berger’s basement.

Martin: I'll bet Knute Berger's basement is like the warehouse in Raiders of the Lost Ark. But every box is full of trees.

Paul: And Wheedle on the Needle merch.

Martin: And vintage Metro buses.

But, I want to turn the question around. Dawn: you were an early reader of the site. You saw it from the outside. What drew you in and kept you reading?

It was the inimitable and irrepressible personality of the site that made it stand out. So much of book reviewing is — it’s not fair to say it’s cookie-cutter, but it’s from a certain cloth.

I think it was one of your reviews, Martin, where you said “We like to say that a book review is the only type of review done in the method of the thing it is reviewing.”

Martin: That's one of Paul's lines. It's probable I stole it.

Regardless: the reviews I was reading on SRoB were interesting in and of themselves, as pieces of writing.

Martin: I'm glad to hear that. That was always important to us, that reviews be good pieces of writing that stand alone.

Paul: I mean, my dirty little secret is that I don’t read many other review sites. Because I find most book reviews to be awful.

Paul, I was trying to be diplomatic.

Martin: You may be surprised to learn that people who started a review site have strong feelings about reviews.

Paul: I don’t need some random dude on the internet to give me a Consumer Reports-style guide or a plot summary. I want them to contextualize the book and argue with the book and point out something I didn’t notice about the book.

I love books and I love talking about books. And I love writing about books. A lot of people don’t believe me when I say I’m not a failed novelist. I’m a reviewer. I’m a book person. I like to think and write about books. And I know I’m not alone.

People always think reviewers are bitter, failed fiction writers. And I guess a lot of them are. But they shouldn’t be writing reviews. They should be getting better at writing fiction.

Martin: So, I guess this is a good time to mention that I'm a novelist.

Not failed, is the key thing.

Martin: True! Not yet. I have that to look forward to. Us people who work in startups, we like failing. We've built a mythology around it.

Paul: And if I may contradict myself: I think novelists are some of the best book reviewers. I always use Colson Whitehead’s review of Richard Ford’s A Multitude of Sins as one of my favorite (and most deserved) literary takedowns of all time.

Martin: And didn't he get punched for it?

Paul: Ford spat on him at a party.

Martin: Even better!

Two years in: is this what you expected?

Paul: Yes?

I mean, I was surprised and pleased by the outpouring of support that we received when we first announced. We were covered by most outlets in town: The Seattle Times, Seattle Magazine, Seattle Metropolitan, City Arts.

They didn’t have to do that. Technically, we’re their competitors.

Martin: That was very gratifying.

Paul: Yeah. It was a little like getting to read your obituary early.

So we were off to a much bigger start than I expected, which was great.

But these first few years, I knew, would be a real heads-down kind of do-the-work period. Make sure we have new stuff on the site every day. Remind people we’re here. Break news sometimes. But be on time, and have something interesting to say, and be as comprehensive as you can. A media outlet has to prove itself by showing up. You can’t have dead days. You can’t drop the ball.

So we’ve been reminding people that we’re here, and we’ve been trying to be good citizens. Good neighbors.

What does that mean? Other than keeping the music down after 10 p.m. and making sure your garbage cans aren’t in the street?

Paul: It means letting people know they can come to us when they need help. It means keeping an eye on the community and spreading the word when someone’s done something worth celebrating.

It means letting people know they can come to us, and expecting us to show up when they need us.

We’re a news site, but we’re also a community resource.

We might run negative reviews and write news stories that annoy people from time to time, but I don’t think anyone can doubt our commitment to books in general, and to Seattle in particular.

That’s the kind of work we’ve had to do in the first few years, and that we still need to do.

Martin: Yeah, we set the stage with what we have done.

With two years under our feet — and, it's worth saying, two profitable years thanks to our incredible sponsors — we're not a fly-by-night affair.

We are a written-by-night affair, however. Mostly.

Paul: I’m basically fused to my couch at this point. Though I’ve stopped falling asleep while typing in mid-sentence, which I take to mean I’m getting better at managing my time.

Martin: I want to talk a bit more about sponsorships for a minute. Because one of the frustrations of working on the web was terrible, terrible, terrible advertising. There is no reason that advertising needs to be terrible. We have a site about reading. Let's give people something to read.

Having a bright line between sponsorship and editorial content was important for us, but also that sponsorships were attractive, didn't riddle your computer with cookies and trackers and third-party nonsense. That we respected our readers as intelligent people who might actually like to find out about some books or events they're into.

Because of doing that, we've been able to sustain the site and pay poets to appear on the site every week, and hire writers.

So please do read our sponsorship each week. If you like them, great! If not, the only thing you've lost is a few minutes of your time. You might just discover a book you absolutely love.

I am curious about what, specifically, you’d like to do over the next few years. If this were the five-year anniversary interview, what would you want me to ask you about?

Martin: I don't want to promise anything specific; sometimes you can deliver on promises, and sometimes you can't. But here are a few things we hope to see: a more robust calendar, more events — like our book club — where we can get out and see people more original fiction on the site — we're running our first short story writing contest now.

Paul: I agree with your recent interview, Dawn, where you said you wanted to see more voices on the site. And that’s why I’m grateful to have you as our associate editor. I love working with new writers, but running a site in addition to a day job is a lot to do.

So to have you working with new voices is wonderful. Without new writers, we’re just kind of treading water. I hope all sorts of people will reach out with weird and fun pitches. Especially young writers who maybe don’t have a byline anywhere else. I’d like to see us become a place that sends new talent out into the world.

“Weird” is my favorite of the words you use to describe book reviews.

Paul: It’s vague, but you know a good, weird book review when you see it. It’s the kind of thing that makes readers say “you can’t do that in a book review . . . can you?”

Turns out, you can!

Martin: I think one of the things that we see a lot is people writing book reviews like they think book reviews should be. That's the wrong approach with us.

Paul: That’s one of the hardest things to do with new writers, is to untrain them from thinking that a book review has to be dull and formal and stuffy.

Or to let them know it’s okay to do what they wanted to do anyway.

Martin: Or that it has to talk about the book at all. Okay, maybe a little. But try us.

Paul: Please!

Martin: I can imagine reading an absolutely delightful review of a Jonathan Franzen book that doesn't talk about the book or the writer at all, for example.

Paul: Any review that doesn’t mention Jonathan Franzen is a delightful review!

Martin: I'm interested in the writer. What is it that the writer brings? Why are they the right person to write the review? How do they see the world through the lens of the book?

Give me an example.

Martin: Here are a few reviews that stand out (although I love every review we've run):

Arthur Wyatt's personal Brit-splaining of Judge Dredd and how he came to write for the comic, Doug Nufer's formal poem critique of The Drone Papers, Bonnie Rough's sensitive and lovely look at death with Abigail Thomas' What comes next and how to like it, just to name a few. Your review, Dawn, of Marie Kondo's book, is a review about people and hard things and coping.

None of them are conventional reviews, really. They don't open with a "here's a thought about the writer, here's a summary, here's a synopsis of what I just told you." They're explorations of the world of the writer through the book.

Paul: I also love Anna Minard’s nerdy (but canny!) love letter to Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

The thing I want to ask, that I’m not quite sure how to get at, is how the context for SRoB is changing — and how that affects your vision for the site. And by context I mean the Seattle literary world, and the environment for books, booksellers, and people who read and write about books.

Paul: That’s a good question. Though a lot of folks in the literary world here like to recall a halcyon time when the Seattle literary world was stable and ever-growing, the truth is that time never existed. Bookstores and venues are always opening and closing. Writers are coming to town, writers are leaving town. Things will be very different in five years, but that’s always the case.

I think our role is to reflect those changes, and mourn the people and institutions that fade from view, and to celebrate the new ones that rise up.

The city is suffering an affordability crisis right now, and though politicians have paid tremendous lip service to writers and other creative types, not much has actually been done to ensure that they can live here.

We should absolutely reflect that in the site.

And we do have the 800-pound gorilla of the publishing industry headquartered in South Lake Union, and we have to acknowledge that.

So we have to advocate for the city we want, in the face of all this prosperity and discomfort and squalor.

We have to advocate for the city we want, in the face of all this prosperity and discomfort and squalor.

Martin: I really, really wish Amazon had some competition in digital books. There is such a lack of innovation anywhere else in publishing in that space, it's disheartening.

Paul: Right! We have a “disruptor,” to use an awkward tech word, in the audio book space here in Seattle. Libro.fm is a local company that’s trying to bring independent bookstores in on the audio book sales front. I hope someone is doing similar work with ebooks, and I hope they’re based here in Seattle, too.

Martin: There's another aspect of the site I want to mention, and that's that we're completely independent. We're not built on another's publishing platform.

We use Facebook and Twitter to spread the word, but as we were coming out, there was a huge migration to Medium.com, and now publications are moving away from it.

It's true that running a website is hard, and it's especially hard to make money, but we're also living in a time where publishing is easier than it has ever been in history. We want more people starting sites and publishing original content. We want more people, of all different backgrounds and views, making sites about books and what they love.

I hope to see many more people breaking out of those walled gardens and building their own worlds.

We want more people, of all different backgrounds and views, making sites about books and what they love.

Final question. And it’s an easy one. Pinky swear. No, wait. I have two. Clearly no respect for the pinky swear!

First: What should I have asked you that I didn’t?

Paul: Well, uh, I don’t know what you should’ve asked that you didn’t, but I know that I’d like to thank all our amazing columnists. I can’t believe that we get to publish the incredible Nisi Shawl on a regular basis! She’s one of the most exciting sci-fi novelists in the field today and she’s an upstanding figure in the Seattle sci-fi scene and she works with us? What the hell?

Martin: For sure, and we have a new column starting next week that I'm so excited about.

Paul: And Daneet Steffens’s mystery column is pure joy. She has such a deep love and understanding of the genre that it’s infectious. I learn so much from reading her column.

Christine Marie Larsen’s Portrait Gallery adds a much-needed visual element to the site, and it’s a fantastic way to celebrate local authors. Her work has been on the site since day one — we have the best 404 pages — and I think the color and life and energy she brings to her paintings is as much a guiding star for the site as any prose we’ve published.

Martin: Yes! Christine is so great. She's done about eighty original paintings for us, which is astounding. It makes me so happy to see her portrait every week, and I'm so grateful for her work.

Paul:And I’m sure we’ll have more terrific columns in the future (pitch us!).

But I especially have to get mushy and thank Cienna Madrid for being with us from the very beginning and writing the best damn advice column in the world.

Martin: Cienna Madrid is so damn funny.

Paul: SO funny. And sometimes she’s so mean that when she demonstrates real compassion it just knocks you on your ass. Getting her column in my inbox is a highlight of my week, every week. And she was writing for us back before anyone even knew this site existed.

So at the risk of sounding like I’m taking a victory lap or giving an Oscar speech, I just want to publicly gush over how lucky we are to have her.

Closing words for SRoB readers?

Paul: Thank you for reading! And thanks for sending in tips and questions and Facebook and Twitter comments. Your thoughts and opinions matter a great deal to us. This is your site, and we take your comments and criticisms really seriously. And we’re so grateful for all your support.

Martin: I want to echo Paul's thoughts, exactly. Putting this site together and working on it every day is a passion, and it's because we have such amazing readers. We love hearing from you, so write in and tell us what you think, what you want to see more of, what you want to see less of. We want to hear.

Thank you so much for reading. And if you see us out at an event, come up and say hello.

They look threatening but are actually quite nice.

Paul: I have resting glower face.

Martin: I have resting at-home face. Because I go out much less than Paul. But talk to me if you see me!

And with that, I think we can close. Yes?

Paul: Yup.

Martin: ...and scene!

I am diva, see me strop

7/27/17 07:45 pm
oursin: Photograph of a spiny sea urchin (Spiny sea urchin)
[personal profile] oursin

No, really, if you return to me a copy-edited article for my attention, and mention that you have made changes to the text (as well as changing the title to one that I think is misleading), please to be sending it to me with your changes tracked and marked up.

For if you are going to insult my ability to write English prose, I think I should be able to see how you have 'improved' my text without having to compare it line by line with the text I sent you.

I may possibly have dumped my bibliography on this editor's head...

Rest In Peace, June Foray

7/27/17 01:19 pm
calliopes_pen: (alterian Kitty Pryde goodbye)
[personal profile] calliopes_pen
June Foray has passed away at the age of 99, just two months before what would have been her 100th birthday. May she rest in peace. She is likely best known as the voice of Rocky The Flying Squirrel and Natasha on The Rocky And Bullwinkle Show. I think Nickelodeon played that quite a bit back in the 80’s.

After I looked through her IMDB filmography, I saw that she basically did voice work on a lot of the shows of my childhood. She was the voice of various characters in Denver The Last Dinosaur, The Smurfs, The Incredible Hulk (the 1982 cartoon, narrated by Stan Lee), and The Real Ghostbusters. She was the voice of Aunt May in Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends. Mrs. Featherby in both the Ducktales series, as well as Ducktales The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990).

She was the voice of the Talky Tina doll in an episode of The Twilight Zone.

She was in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (1975) as the voices of Nagaina the Cobra, Wife of Nag; Teddy's Mother; and Darzee's Wife. I think that, and The Cricket In Times Square (1973) were on Nickelodeon a lot, too. She was the voice of the Hag in Faeries (1981), which I watched when I was likely only a year old--2 at the most...however old I was, a moment where a shadow is stabbed and starts bleeding left an impression, for I searched for it for decades before finding the title.

aldersprig: an egyptian sandcat looking out of a terra-cotta pipe (Default)
[personal profile] aldersprig
Interlude: Luke
by Lyn Thorne-Alder

Monday, December 11, 2000

He thought he might hit something.

He was certain he was going to hit something.  The question was whether or not he was going to manage to wait until he was out of Regine’s office.

“I know.”  He spoke very carefully, because if you got “emotional” around Regine, she stopped listening.  “Emotional” meant that you weren’t being “rational,” and that meant that she could discount any and everything you said.  “I’m aware that the Student Council interfered in the matter of Zita.  But they don’t see the same things as we do, and they’re — they’re biased.”

read on...
larryhammer: Enceladus (the moon, not the mythological being), label: "Enceladus is sexy" (astronomy)
[personal profile] larryhammer
Three useful links:

The myth of force-quitting apps on iOS will save battery life. (via)

Subway-style maps of Roman roads of Britain (via) and
US rivers. (via)



Subject quote from "Harbor," Vienna Teng.


7/27/17 05:30 pm
[syndicated profile] languagelog_feed

Posted by Mark Liberman

Pearls before Swine for 7/23/2017:

A couple of Generation Z language consultants confirm the accuracy of the translations. Or as one of them put it, "Haha right".

[syndicated profile] seattlereviewofbooks_feed

Joe Pompeo at Vanity Fair:

Vanity Fair has learned that Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times chief book reviewer and Pulitzer Prize winner, who has been, by a wide margin, the most powerful book critic in the English-speaking world, is stepping down. Her final review, on the debut novel by Nigerian author Ayobami Adebayo, was published on Tuesday.

I'll likely have more thoughts on this at a later date, but here's my first impression: even people who don't typically read book reviews in the New York Times — here, I raise my hand meekly — have to acknowledge that this is a big deal for American literature. Kakutani is the closest thing to a household name that the book reviewing world has. The next person to take her position will enjoy a tremendous opportunity to represent literary criticism to the general public. Hopefully, the next editor will lead book reviewing into the 21st century with creativity and enthusiasm.

UPDATE 10:17 AM: This post has been updated because I believed some idiot on Twitter about Kakutani's replacement. Sorry about that. I'll try not to believe Twitter randos without double-sourcing next time. No replacement for Kakutani has been named, though critic Parul Seghal has been elevated from NYT Book Review senior editor to a critic position at the daily Times.

[syndicated profile] seattlereviewofbooks_feed

I have to admit something: I loved the first issue of Ta-Nehisi Coates's Black Panther, but the series has largely lost my interest in the intervening year-and-a-half. That first issue was a perfect balance between pop-culture philosphy and superhero action, and Coates seemed to be attempting a more stylish version of a text-heavy style of comics writing that we haven't seen in mainstream comics since the 1980s.

But gradually, over the next few issues, Coates's writing went from wordy to overindulgent to bloated. Long stretches would happen where people would talk in self-important prose and all the important story beats seemed to be happening off-panel. The recap pages would contain more palace drama than the actual comics pages.

And to cap it all off, Brian Stelfreeze, the artist who started Black Panther with Coates, seemed to entirely disappear. Stelfreeze has always had difficulty hitting a monthly deadline, but this book used so much of his visual language that when he stopped drawing the title, the characters seemed to lose their motivation with him. I ordinarily adore Chris Sprouse, the artist who has taken Stelfreeze's place, but Sprouse's superheroic figures, who always seem ready to leap off the page their impossible musculatures and lantern jaws, feel badly mismatched with Coates's action-free scripts.

All that said, the latest issue of Black Panther, #16, is the most exciting issue in a long time. In just a few pages, Coates manages to reinvigorate a background character from the Marvel Universe in a way that feels entirely authentic and thought-provoking, yet still true to the character. The few scenes with this character combine social commentary, some fun writing, and a genuine passion for the Marvel Comics framework.

But it's not enough to salvage the whole issue. Back-up characters appear and disappear with no explanation. The story wants to raise stakes without actually investing in building the drama, and Coates can't seem to find a working rhythm for the book.

Perhaps Black Panther reads differently in trade paperback; it's possible that it flows better when given the same attention one would apply to a novel. But as a monthly comic, it's consistently the least interesting book in the stack I bring home from the comic shop. The great promise of that first issue feels squandered.

kaberett: Clyde the tortoise from Elementary, crawling across a map, with a red tape cross on his back. (elementary-emergency-clyde)
[personal profile] kaberett
Feelings the first: I've just had A finish Season 1 of Korra, and I'm going to be making him watch Spirited Away before Season 2, because that sequence is frankly one of the few things I like about Season 2, so. BUT. Having very recently watched the end of Book 3 of A:tLA with him, I Noticed a Thing about the end of Season 1 that I had not, previously, and then FEELINGS. Spoilers, obviously. )

Orphan Black is also a bunch of FEELINGS, also has spoilers (up to 5.07), and also comes with a content note for Significant Gore slightly beyond what one normally expects of the show, along with all the usual "everything is horrifying but I love all of them" caveats.

Read more... )

7/27/17 12:42 pm
maju: Clean my kitchen (Default)
[personal profile] maju
I love online chat helplines! So much better than trying to talk to a customer service person on the phone. I've just chatted with somebody from the car rental company who said she has removed my phone number from the reservation and the fax attempts should stop within an hour. (An hour might be a bit long at the rate they've been calling, but at least they should stop eventually.)
sartorias: Mei Changs (MC)
[personal profile] sartorias
There is plenty of action in these three episodes, but what really strikes me is the emotional complexity. More is revealed about the past, which reverberates deeply in the present day--these are the hiltless knives, memory, regret, emotion made exponentially intense by being hidden. There are confrontations that demonstrate these hiltless knives, beautifully broken up by hilarious episodes: there is no lugubrious all grim all the time.

Altogether the emotional rollercoaster is exhilarating, and it shore doesn’t hurt that everyone, and everything, is so very beautiful.

Read more... )

7/27/17 11:56 am
maju: Clean my kitchen (Default)
[personal profile] maju
Argh, I'm being phone bombed by somebody trying to send me a fax! Who even faxes anything these days? I've just booked a rental car for when I'm in Perth, and the online form inexplicably requested a fax number as part of the booking process. Maybe I should have moved right along to a different car rental company, but this one was the cheapest as well as being a familiar brand, so I just put in our home phone number not expecting that they would try to fax me something. After the booking was complete they sent me a confirmation email which I will print out before I leave, but now they keep trying to fax me something as well. I think they've tried about half a dozen times so far. I answered a couple of times thinking that would make them think the fax had gone through, but it didn't work. Now I'm just ignoring it, while hoping that my booking will still be valid if I don't get their fax. Oh well, I could probably just front up to any of the car rental counters at the airport when I arrive and get a car if it comes to that.
selenak: (Watchmen by Groaty)
[personal profile] selenak
Reading the first Bernie Gunther novel has sent me into the rabbit hole, the marathon reading from which I now slowly emerge, having grabbed all the novels my local library had available and then buying the most recent one, Prussian Blue. By which you can conclude that these novels are addictive, despite or maybe because of their very dark setting and the way Kerr handles it. I didn’t always read them in order, but that works out better than usual in a series because Kerr writes them not always in linear order as well, and several take place in different eras simultaneously (one post WWII, one during the Third Reich), each filling out different gaps in his anti hero’s life. In fact, I’m glad I read, not by intention but coincidence of availability, “The Other Side of Silence” (No.11, probably the one most located in the 1950s, with just one flashback to the 1940s) before “The Pale Criminal” (No.2, set in 1938), because while both novels feature male gay characters, the ones in No.11 are fleshed out and for the most part sympathetic, and also not just one or two but four on page and a fifth one intensely talked about, whereas in No.2 they are solely a weak coward and a villain respectively, which for a novel set during a time when gay people ended up in prison and/or camps in Germany is a highly questionable authorial choice.

(Sidenote: not that you don’t have historical basis for writing gay villains in a story set among the Nazis. I mean, Ernst Röhm. But still.)

Reading the first novel had left me wondering how Kerr would justify Bernie Gunther’s continued survival as a (mostly) ethical P.I. in one of the most brutal dictatorships in history. Turns out, he doesn’t; Bernie gets drafted back into police service by Reinhard Heydrich in 1938, which means that when WWII starts, he along with the rest of the police gets absorbed into the SS, and while he manages to get a transfer into another unit, this doesn’t happen before being exposed to and in one case participating in mass shootings. While some of the novels feature flashbacks to the P.I. period, most therefore have Bernie as part of the institutions he abhors, which simultaneously deepens his moral compromise (and self loathing) but heightens the likelihood of his survival (while also providing the novelist with excuses for letting Bernie be present at some key points he couldn’t have been as a civilian, like the discovery of the Katyn massacre, more about that in a moment). I find this a fair authorial choice – if you’re going to produce a series of novels with a German detective set mostly in the Third Reich, keeping him entirely guilt free of the morass the nation was sunk into would have felt like cheating. I also was able to buy into the premise of various upper hierarchy Nazis – Heydrich, Goebbels, Arthur Nebe – finding Bernie so useful they would want to use him because he’s That Good at crime solving and occasionally even in a dictatorship you need to figure out who actually did the deed as opposed to finding the most convenient scapegoat. (The constant in fighting and rivalry between top Nazis also plays a role in Bernie’s survival, since a good detective is also useful for getting dirt on each other.) Another way Kerr plays fair is having Bernie constantly aware of the sheer insanity of it all – trying to track down individual criminals when the entire system around you has become criminal, and murder and thievery actually are the law.

Further ramblings below the cut )
umadoshi: (W13 - Helena focused (kleahs))
[personal profile] umadoshi
--I have an appointment with Dr. Awesome at 3, which I'm opening with because since yesterday I've been afraid of forgetting about it. (I usually try to schedule appointments for mid-morning, and usually on Mondays [Monday being the day I'm most sure of not having work in the morning when Casual Job is on], so "mid-afternoon on a Thursday" is deeply counterintuitive.) Along with the B12 shot, I need to talk to her about how badly I've been sleeping (I think the tryptophan isn't helping much anymore), medication stuff, and my specialist appointment last month. (I printed out my notes on that, most of which are seething.)

--One of these days I'm going to have to cave and either look into a new music player or start listening to music on my phone. I've been resistant to the latter for fear of draining the phone battery too quickly, but so many people use their smartphones for music that it must not be as big an issue as I fear; also, I formed that fear back when I had a different phone with much less battery life. (And now I have a...power bank? Portable charger? Whatever they're called...that I picked up last summer when I was briefly playing Pokemon Go. *still annoyed about the game's obnoxious decision to not work for anyone using a rooted/unlocked phone*)

--Another "one of these days" things...I really need to start trying to reconstruct my AMV collection at some point, but it's exhausting to think about. :/

--Last night I wrote about 1100 words, which is more than I'd managed since early June, during [dreamwidth.org profile] nanodownunder. I was up too late doing it, and I don't care. Words! (Words that I'll probably blush over when I get a draft and send it to [dreamwidth.org profile] wildpear...and how long has it been since that was a thought? I've generally gotten pretty blasé about smut. And then there's this.)

--[dreamwidth.org profile] rushthatspeaks has a post up about The War of the Worlds. It's well worth reading, of course, but I'm noting it because I'm laughing at myself for how I get caught on it every time I see H.G. Wells referred to by male pronouns.

7/27/17 11:05 am
the_rck: (Default)
[personal profile] the_rck
Cordelia stayed home from camp yesterday to go to lunch with my parents and brother. We ended up going to Evergreen since all of us were okay with it. My stepfather kept joking about going to Dairy Queen. Cordelia and I ended up ordering exactly the same thing-- shrimp with mixed vegetables, a spring roll, wonton soup, and white rice. My mother got an eggplant dish that I wanted to try until she realized there were green peppers and jalepeno peppers in it. (Garlic and ginger, too, but those would have been fine for me.) My brother got a lamb stew. My stepfather got some sort of vegetarian lunch. He specifically wanted to avoid garlic and such because he had a doctor's appointment in the early afternoon.

We spent a little time in the large Asian grocery next door to Evergreen after we finished lunch. Then my stepfather dropped me, Cordelia, and Mom at our house and went to his appointment. Once my brother got there, he and Mom took Cordelia to Book Bound (where she refused Mom's offer to buy her something) and for a walk along the river. Scott woke and showered while they were out. He came out of the bathroom about five minutes after they got back here.

Then we all sat around for quite a while and worried because my stepfather's appointment was at 2:00, and it was after 4:00. Then it was after 5:00, and the website for Kellogg says they close at 5:00. He called Mom at about 5:45 to say he was waiting to have at least one more test done and that he wouldn't be able to drive for 30 minutes after and didn't know yet if he was going to have to stay overnight, either at the hospital or at a hotel in town.

Mom was understandably more than a little freaked out. The appointment was about a tumor in one of his eyes (the found it about two weeks after my breast cancer surgery in 2015). The specialist he's been seeing in New Orleans wanted him to see a higher level specialist about it. That doctor suggested flying to Houston or Memphis but thought Kellogg would be great when my stepfather pointed out that he'd be spending the summer in Michigan.

There was some concern about their dogs. They'd left the dogs back in Lawton, about two hours away. They have a dog door, so the dogs could go in and out, but they didn't have food and water for another day alone. My brother, who lives in Kalamazoo, about twenty minutes away, said he could very easily go and feed the dogs after he drove home last night.

It ended up not being necessary. The doctors want my stepfather, insurance approval allowing, to come back next week for a procedure involving an injection and some sort of laser treatment. Wanting to get him in next week is largely a matter of his schedule as he needs to be back in Baton Rouge in time to prepare for classes before the semester starts. I'm pretty sure they need to leave around the 10th. If they can't get the procedure done before that, he'll have to fly back to Michigan later for it, either waiting until December or taking time off from teaching.

We ended up canceling our game session last night. By the time we got to 6:20, Scott was really drooping and needed another nap if he was going to be able to go to work. Fortunately, I was able to reach everyone by phone to tell them we had to cancel.

Scott and I need to work things out in terms of the changeover between him getting up and leaving and me going to bed. Each of us thought the other was going to turn off the living room and bathroom lights last night. I was actually in bed before he left with my c-PAP on and all that by about 10:00, but I'm pretty sure he didn't realize that I was. He needs to leave about 10:15 in order to get to work on time. I realized, when I was almost asleep in spite of the lights, that it was late enough that he had to have already left and therefore didn't need those lights (and wasn't going to turn them off for me), so I hauled myself out of bed and turned all the lights off. I was pretty cranky about it.

He's definitely working nights next week, too. Then he'll have a week of vacation to get back to the right schedule for working days again.

I used the c-PAP for about seven hours last night.

Three Things Make a Post

7/27/17 08:46 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
1. I earned $25 this week from behavioral testing. I used part of it to buy a Faye Kellerman mystery for my e-reader, recommended on someone else's journal. I've never tried that author before, and I've been looking for a new detective series for a while. Recs welcome for series with an interesting lead character.

2. Due to evening dayjob-related events this week, my gym schedule is weird. I went Monday for elliptical, consisting of intervals and then a relatively steady pace for a total of three miles in forty-five minutes. Tonight, I will do something with weights or push-ups/squats, and then more elliptical if I am not exhausted. I've had a lot of gym irregularities this summer, what with softball, injuries, and events, but some gym is better than no gym.

3. Dayjob-related tailgate/baseball game is Friday night. Phillies are playing the Braves! Except I am too lazy to dig out my Braves cap. Alas, thunderstorms are in the forecast, so I'm not sure how that's going to work out. On the good side, we dress down for the annual game, so I can wear Chucks or running shoes to work, and we get to leave early.

I never did get into the Phillies despite living here since 1992. Besides, my dad was a Braves fan.
fignewton: (don't say ka)
[personal profile] fignewton posting in [community profile] sg1_missionreport
The admin announcement is here.

Signups for next month are here.

If you're pleased to see [community profile] stargateficrec making the move to DW, I hope you'll sign up to rec. It would be lovely to see the comm getting more active at this new platform.

today is a brand new day

7/27/17 10:45 am
musesfool: christina hendricks (they would topple empires)
[personal profile] musesfool
I've been here since 7:45 this morning because of ~reasons I'm too tired to get into in detail but are more of the same annoying song.

Now that I'm back to looking at places, I've started looking at furniture again, and right now, all the apartments are painted white, so there's no background to match, so I've expanded my color horizons just a little (I was mostly looking at gray or sage green for sofas previously, and gosh are there some lovely gray sofas so I wouldn't count it totally out) and since blue is my favorite color, there are things like this, this, this, and this to admire, not to mention this if I had an unlimited budget (which I sadly do not).

I also have always liked the beach bungalow look, and this sort of stripey thing appeals to that sensibility.

But then I thought, why limit myself? Maybe I want an orange sofa! And I mostly am not into leather furniture, but the lived in look of this sofa is very appealing to me.

Otoh, I can also have walls painted once I've moved into a place, so I could do an accent wall as necessary (both the apartments that were removed from my list yesterday had beautiful blue accent walls in the living room), and have whatever color scheme I choose, so who knows what will happen!

Probably not red though. I've had a red sofa and chair for fifteen years. I'm ready for something new.

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Doctor to Dragons - CoverI met G. Scott Huggins almost twenty years ago. We were both published in Writers of the Future XV, and we ended up in a writing group together for several years. He was one of the folks who helped me grow and improve as an author. I published one of his stories in Heroes in Training a while back.

In April of this year, his humorous fantasy novelette A Doctor to Dragons [Amazon | B&N] came out.

I love the premise and setup. Dr. James DeGrande is a veterinarian in a land that’s been taken over by a Dark Lord, and the whole thing is written with a kind of tongue-in-cheek humor. The book is made up of several distinct but related stories, showing the growth of James and his partnership with his assistant Harriet (a physically disabled almost-witch).

Here’s part of the publisher’s official description:

Everyone says it was better in the Good Old Days. Before the Dark Lord covered the land in His Second Darkness.

As far as I can tell, it wasn’t that much better. Even then, everyone cheered the heroes who rode unicorns into combat against dragons, but no one ever remembered who treated the unicorns’ phosphine burns afterward. Of course, that was when dragons were something to be killed. Today I have to save one. Know what fewmets are? No? Then make a sacrifice of thanks right now to whatever gods you worship, because today I have to figure a way to get them flowing back out of the Dark Lord’s favorite dragon. Yeah, from the other end. And that’s just my most illustrious client. I’ve got orcs and trolls who might eat me and dark elf barons who might sue me if their bloodhawks and chimeras don’t pull through. And that doesn’t even consider the possibility that the old bag with the basilisk might show up.

The only thing that’s gone right this evening is finding Harriet to be my veterinary assistant. She’s almost a witch, which just might save us both. If we don’t get each other killed first.

I appreciate writers who take traditional fantasy and flip things around to present a different perspective. Just as I enjoy clever protagonists, like James and Harriet. (And while this may come as a shock, I also like fantasy that tries to have fun.)

There’s one bit I need to talk about. About 80% of the way into the book, we meet Countess Elspeth Bathetique, an incredibly neglectful pet owner and generally unpleasant person, and we get this exchange:

“Dammit, my lady, you’re not even a vampire!”

“How… how dare you? I identify as a vampire, you filth! You cannot dream of the tragic destiny which is ours!”

“What? Suffering from vitamin deficiency, malnutrition, keeping out of the sun for no damn reason, and torturing your poor pet basilisk? If I dreamed of that, I’d seek clerical help!”

I don’t believe it was intentional, but seeing language generally used by transgender people played for laughs by a wannabe vampire threw me right out of the story. I emailed and chatted with Scott, who confirmed that wasn’t the intention. The Countess was meant to be a darker take on Terry Pratchett’s Doreen Winkings. But he said he understood how I or others might read it the way I did.

One of my favorite parts of these stories are the veterinary details. Huggins’ wife is a veterinarian, and there’s a sense of real truth to the protagonist’s frustration with neglectful pet owners and the various challenges of keeping all these magical animals healthy. It helps to ground the book and acts as a nice counter to the humor.

I couldn’t find an excerpt online, but there’s a promo video on YouTube.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

maju: Clean my kitchen (Default)
[personal profile] maju
Found here

Bedroom: what’s your sleep schedule? Go to bed at 9:45 pm, wake up with the alarm at 5:45 am.

Kitchen: favorite comfort food? Probably toast with marmalade accompanied by a cup of tea.

Washroom: showers or baths? bubbles? bath bombs? Showers, always. No soap of any kind, including bubble bath/shower gel/bath bombs/any of that stuff.

Closet: sum up your style in a few words. Super casual. Shorts or long pants with t-shirts and warm shirts, depending on the season.

Parlor: favorite party or board game? I enjoy word games but don't really have a favourite.

Living room: what do you like to do with your family? Chat, play board games.

Dining room: favorite special occasion food? A good rich fruit cake with fondant icing over a layer of marzipan.

Garden: favorite tree? flower? I love crepe myrtles and dogwoods, and one of my favourite flowers is the hydrangea.

Attic: what’s one thing you have a sentimental attachment to and you will never throw away? My 1969 Bernina sewing machine which I left in Australia with one of my daughters.

Library: favorite book genre? It's a toss-up between psychological thriller as written by Ruth Rendell and family drama as written by Joanna Trollope.

Office: if you could have any job in the world, what would it be? Something to do with computers.

Guest room: have you been to a sleepover? if so, when was your first? do you like them? I went to a few when I was around 10 to 12 years old. They were fun. The most recent "sleepover" I went on was when I shared an apartment in Vancouver with my sisters and brothers in law last year for a week; I slept in the living room on a couch so it felt a bit like a sleepover.

Foyer: do you like small gatherings, large parties, or one-on-one meetings? Very small gatherings or one-on-one meetings are equally good.

Pantry: favorite meal to make? That would be none. I don't like cooking. However, anything that can be thrown into the slow cooker is ok with me.

Laundry: favorite and least favorite chore? Doing the washing and hanging it on the line is definitely the least objectionable chore there is and most of the time I enjoy it. All other chores are my least favourite.

Garage: favorite mode of transportation? favorite car? Walking, cycling, or taking public transport are all equal favourites for me. I don't have a favourite car but I definitely prefer manual transmission over automatic.

Panic room: what was the most nerve-wracking experience you’ve had? This question reminded me of a sleepover I went to when I was in my twenties. I was a Bible college student and a group of us (about a dozen I think) went to the farm of one of our fellow students for a weekend. We had to sleep in a shed because there were so many of us. (There were beds - I guess it was shearers' quarters or something.) The hostess was sleeping in her own bedroom in the house with her sisters. After we'd all retired for the night we started hearing strange noises outside, as of somebody possibly drunk bumbling around trying to get in. It was terrifying, but apparently I stayed calmer than everybody else and helped some of the other girls to not completely panic, but some were almost in hysterics. The noise turned out to be our hostess and her sister playing a prank on us, and they were extremely contrite when they discovered how much they had terrified us. (Most of the group were city girls and didn't know what you might encounter on a farm miles from anywhere.)

Powder room: do you wear makeup? if so, what one item can’t you live without? what’s your favorite look? Nope, no makeup. It's about 40 years since I last wore any.

Trip planning!

7/27/17 10:40 am
selenay: (Default)
[personal profile] selenay
In less than a week(!!!) I'm catching a flight to London for the beginning of the Epic Wedding and Convention Tour TM, so I feel like it's time to note dates and maybe plan any meet-ups that might be possible. Thus, itinerary!

1 August - Flight to London leaves at just before midnight. Hopefully.
2 August - Flight arrives in London.
2 to 3 August - At parent's house, wedding prep.
6 August - Fly to Helsinki.
7 to 8 August - Sightseeing in Helsinki.
9 to 13 August - Worldcon in Helsinki.
14 August - Fly back to London.
16 August - Day trip to Cardiff for Doctor Who exhibition.
17 to 20 August - Pottering around my parents house/home town.
21 August - Fly back to Canada.

I'm currently noodling around a trip into London for books and cake-eating on August 18 (Friday). If anyone is free to meet up for lunch/cake/drinks/supper, let me know and we'll arrange it :-) I usually hit up Foyles for a few hours because I'm a nerd, so I'll be pretty centralish.

And anyone going to Helsinki Worldcon should raise their hands so we can figure out meeting for coffee or panels or whatever.

This trip is going to be EPIC.
aldersprig: an egyptian sandcat looking out of a terra-cotta pipe (Default)
[personal profile] aldersprig
Twelve: Watch What You Say

The man who might or might not b the Diamond Raven struggled, but he couldn’t seem to do anything about the cord around his neck and, rather than have Raizel tug it tighter, he followed her.  “I have things I should get-” he protested, but she didn’t listen, and then “I shouldn’t leave a candle burning-” and then “someone needs to watch the sacred spot.”

“Someone does,” she agrees.  “But having it be you might be a bit silly.”

“And why would it be silly for it to be me?”  He raised his eyebrows at her in challenge.

read on…
oursin: Illustration from the Kipling story: mongoose on desk with inkwell and papers (mongoose)
[personal profile] oursin

While I was away I noticed on, I think, Twitter, which I was scrolling through while waiting at a bus stop/train station/whatever, somebody getting into a froth over somebody deleting their tweets upon mature reflection, and how this was The Death of History.

To which my own reactions were:

a) Archivists have been thinking about the problems posed by the fragility of the digital record for a good couple of decades plus, this is not something no-one has noticed before. (Wasn't the Library of Congress archiving Twitter, and presumably there are some measures against tampering, if so? - hah, I see that there have been problems of processing and it's not actually accessible, or wasn't as at last year.)

b) Quite apart from the dangers of fire, flood and insect or animal depredation to which records in the more traditional forms have been exposed, there has been a fair amount of deliberate curating of the record over the centuries, by deliberate destruction or just careful concealment (whether it's the Foreign Office secret archive or the concealment of Turner's erotic drawings under a misleading file title).

c) While you can delete or destroy a particular record, you cannot always get rid of the information that it did exist - presumably it was other people commenting on the now-deleted tweets or retweeting them that led to the decision to delete them, but that doesn't eradicate the fact of their existence. This may even draw attention to the deleted record: this is why when I was still being an archivist we used to persuade donors not to ask for closures apart from those mandated by Data Protection, because the idea that something is *CLOSED* causes some people's ears to prick up in a supposition that there will be *HIDDEN SECRETS* (this was very, very, seldom the case).

I might also invoke the case that came up in Prince of Tricksters, where Netley Lucas under one of his identities was communicating with different officials and departments, possibly, it is suggested, as a means to confuse his trail: but, due to the growth of bureaucracy, as well as the social networks they belonged to, could also communicate among one another to discover that this was all the same guy.

There is also the phenomenon that I have mentioned to researchers, that yes [organisations of a certain ideological bent] have been very coy about placing their archives anywhere where people might do research in them; BUT the organisations and people they were against kept tabs on their activities, collected their literature, etc.

Also that if person/organisation's own papers do not survive, you can find out a good deal from the surviving records of those they interacted with.


7/27/17 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed

Posted by john (the hubby of Jen)





Thanks to Steven C., Elizabeth E., and Jennifer S. for remembering that it could always be worse.


Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

And from my other blog, Epbot:

7/27/17 09:23 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] fjm and [personal profile] wildroot!
tamaranth: me, in the sun (Default)
[personal profile] tamaranth
2017/60: Touch -- Claire North
Everyone needs a hobby, and everyone was mine. [p. 67]

Somewhere in London, in a dark alley, in the past, a woman is murdered. But she doesn't want to die alone: she reaches out and touches her murderer ... and becomes him, looking down at the corpse of his victim.
no spoilers )
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Sandy wakes up to the aroma of coffee and the sounds of someone moving about the dressing-room. Hector comes out and says, they sent to Jerome at Raxdell House to send over some fresh clothes, and he confides that he himself is still quite able to shave and dress a gentleman. Sandy would protest that he is quite able to shave himself and then looks at the trembling of the coffee in the cup from the tremors in his hand. He asks Hector what time it is.

Nigh on ten of the morning, says Hector, consulting the watch that Clorinda gave him those many years ago in Surrey.

What! He has slept the clock round and more.

When he descends to the parlour, and finds Clorinda at her desk, he asks what was in that posset?

My dear, do you accuse me of drugging you? There was a little brandy, but 'twas mostly milk and spices, quite entirely sanitive. You were quite entire exhausted, my dear.

Euphemia comes to set a substantial breakfast before him: he does not think he can possibly eat, until he starts, and discovers himself quite ravenous.

When he has finished, he says, well, he has slept, he has eaten, now he should return to Raxdell House.

Indeed not, says Clorinda, I am in the very act of writing to the new Lord Raxdell to say that, after you had convey’d me home, 'twas quite apparent that you were in a state of extreme exhaustion and I am like to fear a brain-fever do you not rest. I am in considerable concern that I should send for a physician.

He snorts and says, 'tis very kind of you, dear sibyl, but you do not need to lie for me.

Alexander MacDonald! snaps Clorinda, sure there has been a certain amount of equivocation and masquerade over the years, but this is quite the entirest truth. Sure if you endeavour leave, I shall have Hector lock you up. I will not have you work yourself into illness, sure, how can you suppose that Milord would have wanted any such thing? He left you that fine independence entirely so you should not need to. I confide that 'twould be carrying out his wishes to prevent you.

My dear, she says in gentler tones, you appear incapable of manifesting your dour Calvinistickal glare, 'tis the surest of signs that you are not your wont’d self.

His chest starts heaving and he finds himself entirely overtaken by the physical manifestations of grief. And finds himself being held by Clorinda, and when thought begins to return, has fleeting considerations about the very comforting nature of female softness, and then comes to realise that Clorinda is weeping herself.

O, he cries, I am the most selfish of fellows! As if you too do not mourn a dear friend of many years.

Why, 'tis something that we may grieve together, for who else besides ourselves would know the inwardness of the matter? She hands him a large handkerchief, while dabbing at her own cheeks with a delicate lacy affair.

And after your other losses, he goes on, conscience-stricken, remembering walking across the lawns at Raxdell House with Josiah Ferraby, smoking cigars and talking of some matter going forth in Parliament, and the other man suddenly putting a hand to his chest with an expression of startlement and crumpling to the ground. And the agonizing long illness of Eliza Ferraby, Clorinda’s pretty house become a house of sickness for those many painful months, the finest physicians and surgeons in London called upon, crack nurses in attendance, nothing to be done but to try and keep her as comfortable as possible.

O my dear, says Clorinda with a tearful laugh, sure 'tis no matter upon which one may make mathematical calculations of degrees of infelicity. But sure I hope you will remain here at least for a little while.

He looks down at his hands. It would be quite infinitely more agreeable, or at least less painful, to be here rather than at Raxdell House.

But – he begins –

O, fie upon your buts!

It is entirely too kind –

Fiddlesticks! Have we not been the dearest of friends this long while? Unless there was some other course of action you preferred – travel, or return to your native soil, or to go stay with one of your philosopher friends – sure I am a thoughtless Clorinda –

No, no, indeed no, silly creature. He sees that Clorinda is trying, with less success than usually attends, to conceal tearfulness.

Sure I should ask before going contrive, she says, blowing her nose. But I saw that fellow, quite desiring bind you to his interests, the wretch, as if you were some automaton, and – but I daresay you had your own plans already, o, I confide that behind my back I am known as that Meddlesome Marchioness –

No, dearest Clorinda, had he had time I am sure Gervase would have instructed you to kidnap me before I was beguiled by some false sense of duty into remaining. 'Twould be exceeding agreeable to me to find refuge here, but will there not be gossip?

She laughs somewhat immoderate, nigh unto hysterics, and says, my dear, we have been gossiped upon these many years, 'twill entirely be a matter of knowing tapping of noses. Sure scandalmonging tongues have had us abed together this long while.

Well, he says, was that tedious journey across France with the masquerade of marriage, and that time in Scarborough -

- The one room left in any hostelry that we would have cared to sleep in, sure I had not consider’d how popular a watering-place 'twas -

- awake half the night arguing about a device for some Gothick tale of yours!

They look at one another with affection.

I confide, says Clorinda, that Jerome would be the one to apply to about your trunks –

There are, he says, some matters of papers in the office that are to do with my own business –

Sure, says Clorinda, 'twould be a shocking thing was it discovered upon you that you were that savage critic, Deacon Brodie; and I daresay there is a philosophical treatise or so that you have never had the leisure to prepare for publication, that you might wish take in hand now –

Dearest Clorinda, you have ever read me like a book; so I will go to Raxdell House and pack them up myself, and make various commendations of the clerks to the new Viscount, and advance the interest of those that might suit as secretary –

Quite excellent ton!

So the next day he goes to Raxdell House, and the new Viscount displays excellent ton himself in saying that now he considers upon the matter and sees Mr MacDonald’s condition, indeed he realises that 'twould be an entire imposition to ask him to take on this task, but would be exceeding grateful of his advice. He also remarks upon the sanitive benefits of sea-voyages.

So Sandy says that Mr Cartwright has a very fine understanding of the general business of the Raxdell interests – His Lordship will surely know that for many years he himself acted very much in the capacity of a political advisor to the late Viscount, rather than having the day to day administration of affairs in his hands. Cartwright he confides would give entire satisfaction was he promoted to the entire oversight of the estates, the management of Raxdell House &C.

Why, says His Lordship, does not suppose he will follow in the late Viscount’s political footsteps – Sandy confides not, for just the mention of these makes the fellow look uneasy – although of course will take his seat in the Lords.

He then opens a drawer in his desk and says, sure these legal fellows take a deal of a time about settling all the matters of the will, but he and his dear lady have been looking into some of the personal matters themselves, and they confide that these are the items that the late Viscount wished Lady Bexbury to have.

There is the snuffbox – he knows that there was some private joke 'twixt Gervase and Clorinda about the snuffbox – and the various pieces of jewellery, including the famed pink diamond parure and several fine rings.

The Viscount clears his throat, and says that the Viscountess finds herself quite translated into this new and unanticipated sphere, has no connections in Town Society, is at somewhat of a loss as to how she should proceed. Has heard that there are certain ladies of fine breeding and understanding of ton that alas find themselves financially embarrassed and may be hired as advisors, but –

Sandy has not spent these many years as confidante to the exquisite Dowager Marchioness of Bexbury to misunderstand what the Viscount reaches at. He indicates that, does Lady Bexbury suppose she will be welcome, she will certainly call and her understanding of the usages of Society is everywhere most highly esteemed. (He cannot imagine that Clorinda will not relish the task.)

The Viscount looks exceeding relieved.

After they have taken civil leave of one another, he goes to the office to be about packing up his things. Cartwright comes in and says, there are a deal of letters marked for his personal attention have lately come. He frowns, spreads them out upon the desk, observes the franks and the seals and realizes that these are from members of their coterie and wider circles, and that though he is sure they have writ condolences in entire formal fashion to the new Viscount, they convey the messages of sympathy from long friendship to himself. Treacherous tears come to his eyes, even as he thinks that Clorinda would laugh and point out that he is not an antient mariner alone upon the waves with a dead seagull about his neck but has a deal of social connections.

He pushes the letters into a tidy pile, blinking as he does so, and manages to compose himself sufficiently to say, he will take them with him to Lady Bexbury’s where he may peruse them at leisure, and do any more come, should be sent there. But he dares say it gets about that he may be found at that direction.

Cartwright asks, with a trace of anxiety in his tone, whether Mr MacDonald does not intend remain in the service of the Viscount?

Sandy can tell from the change of Cartwright’s expression that his own has become dour and Calvinistickal. He blinks again and says, hoping that his features show more amiable, that he confides that the present Viscount does not have the same political interests, and in respect of all the quotidian matters of administration, Mr Cartwright is eminently fitted to carry them out; he has spoke to the Viscount already to that effect. Is there any matter of advice on particular questions required, he is quite entirely at their service.

But, he says, did His late Lordship trouble to leave me an independence, I think it shows respectful of his wishes to go enjoy it.

(Though the notion of enjoyment seems some wild fantastical opium dream, a phantasm.)

Hector’s fine strapping son Ben comes to say, the boxes are all stowed in the carriage, was there anything more needed put in?

Sandy says that he confides that Jerome has the matter of clothes well under hand and he has enough at present to serve, 'tis not as though he intends going about in Society. He picks up the letters, shakes Cartwright firmly by the hand saying he will do most excellently, and follows Ben out to the carriage. Ben goes sit beside Nick on the box after closing the door upon him, and they drive off.

sovay: (What the hell ass balls?!)
[personal profile] sovay
I made a new icon. I'm not sure how much I'm going to use it, but something about the ongoing politics seemed to call for it. I believe I have [personal profile] choco_frosh to thank for introducing me to the original context in Questionable Content. Anybody who finds the icon useful should feel free to abstract it.