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Jun. 14th, 2016

It will be well

Randomly musing about the inexplicable choreographer.

Sometimes you just end up thinking about things for one reason or another, and they don't really make a lot of sense as to what the context is. That's what this post is. Anyway, when I was in high school, in a little private high school in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, the school had a choreographer, Mrs Joy. I think I knew her first name once, so I'm pretty sure she had one. But what else she had I'm completely clueless about. She showed up when there was choreography to be done - every time - and when there wasn't choreography to be done she wasn't around. I don't know whether she was a part-time employee or a volunteer or what, but choreography was all she did. The school had plays and eventually a dance team, so she was around enough that everyone knew her but not enough that she could be mistaken for a teacher. I don't think she was ever even substitute music teacher, and the school was small enough that our average substitute music teacher quality was quite low. I never knew anything about her personally, and I don't remember that anyone else ever did either. As far as we were concerned she existed to choreograph. I hadn't actually thought about her in years until today, when I realized that if I had been going to high school in an urban fantasy novel, Mrs. Joy would have been the Queen of the Fairies. 

Jun. 1st, 2016

Van Gogh


I've been experimenting with Patreon as a place to post art, starting with the final photos from my Finland/Sweden/Iceland trip. I'm basically using it as a blog with a built-in tip jar; everything there is free.

Mar. 19th, 2016

Nita and Kit destroy


Reading went pretty slowly the last month. But enough for a post I guess.

(x) George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones. 160 pages is how far I got in this before puking (metaphorically) and giving up. I'm generally against making moral judgments about books, but all of these characters are awful humon beings and I don't need to be spending my time on them. I think I got the key insight for my Grimdark cozy mystery, though - in a normal cozy mystery everyone has a perfectly nice facade, and the detective has to figure out which one is secretly reprehensible. In Grimdark the situation is reversed. The thing still doesn't have characters or a pot or anything, so who knows if I'll ever write it anyway.

(1) Sofia Samatar, A Stranger in Olondria. Alena recommended this to me on Twitter when I asked for comfort reads by non-white authors. It's not going to be that for me. My first reaction to it was to be thrilled to be reading someone whose sentences are longer than mine, which doesn't happen much, at least outside of Paarfi-related contexts, and of course we all know how Paarfi is well-known, respected, and, yes, I dare say, even revered, put above all others, for his brevity, that most important and indispensible of writerly virtues. But before long it was dragging, mostly because I never really found a reason to care about Jevick, who seems to be discontented with his lot as a political football for not-very-talented football players but unwilling to actually take any action to change things. It's hard enough when a book alternates between perspectives and you only care about one of them, but in this case the perspective I cared about only appeared for most of chaper seventeen. By then I figured I might as well finish, but overall, I didn't find it very satisfying.

(2) Diane Duane, Games Wizards Play. This, on the other hand, went very fast, as tenth books in favorite series ought to. Duane continues to stall on the inevitable progress of the main Nita and the Lone Power plot, but there's a bit in this one which makes me much more confident that she'll go the right direction with it once she actually gets there. This book suffers somewhat from the idea that YAs ought to have large, arbitrary competitions which no one has ever heard of in the universe before, and it's a large book for that. But at least hers has some grounding in the reality of the world. Still, this isn't one of the better installments in the series, as the plot takes 550 pages to show up, and the puzzle aspect of it isn't knowable. And of course, as usual there's not nearly enough Carmela. Pluto is pretty cool, though, and I really enjoy the choice to pitch Jupiter and Saturn as adorable.

Mar. 4th, 2016


To Reader, or not to.

When I designed the final cover for The Reader: War for the Oaks it was definitely with the idea of making it the first in a series. I spent some time casting about for another book to do a similar thing with, and eventually found one; I even talked to the author about it and got her at least provisionally on board. That was August; now it's March, and my scheduling has gotten out in front of me far enough that my next block of free time is pretty much June. And I feel like I'm making the decision to give up on the series simply by not moving forward on it. If I'm going to make that decision, I'd rather do it intentionally, and I thought maybe asking people for input would help me figure out where I want to go. And also, whether this is a thing that has particular value beyond the novelty aspect. (Which is cool, but.)

WFTO was not a financial success, apart from under tax rules where all this inventory I have counts as an asset. That's not as important to me as it might be, but it's not exactly motivating. The new book is not any better known, and it's not in Minnesota, so the new project would require some amount of travel.

And all this is tying into my general dissociation of myself from fandom and SFF as a toxic community. In some sense the Reader is a community-building project, and while I still feel pretty strongly about authors and readers as a worthwhile community, I feel much less that way about SFF in its fandom aspect and in its social media aspect right now. Maybe in that sense it would be better to step back from this one, find a more popular, non-genre novel to work with. To do The Reader: The Three Musketeers I'd need a grant, but hey, I have an established work history now, I could be writing them. And I could do something like Huckleberry Finn with no more trouble than the current plan.

There's this weird thing about post-publication where I'm no longer the only stakeholder and, while I still feel like I'm in charge of this project, I feel somewhat obligated to ask the people who have contributed to it, with enthusiasm or money or modeling or writing, for input. That feeling may be trouble if I ever finish a novel; for the moment I think it's fine, though. Anyway, I'm interested in whatever anyone has to say.

(Tagging moiread specifically as someone who will be sure to have an opinion.)

Feb. 29th, 2016


Scalia story.

If you were stranded on a desert island, and could only take one person with you, who would it be?

This has always been a strange question to me. People seem to think it should be answered selfishly, but anyone I would actually want around I would rather not have stranded on a desert island in the first place. Somebody I like should get to have a better life than that. Besides, I'm pretty sure there's no one in the world I would be able to stand for more than ten hours with no external stimuli.

So my traditional answer to that question has long been Justice Antonin Scalia. I figure if I'm going to choose someone to be stranded on a desert island, it might as well be someone who would greatly improve the rest of the world by his absence. Besides, he was just as useful as anyone for the other traditional activity of those stranded on a desert island. Which led us to a variant on the old pig joke:

Q: Why is Justice Scalia walking around with a peg leg?
A: You can't eat a good jurist like that all at once.

Although I guess now you pretty much have to. Unless your desert island has a chest freezer.

Feb. 9th, 2016

bright shiny futures

I read a couple of books.

Books seem like a reasonable way to get back into the swing of writing on Livejournal. I thought about starting this from January, but I realized I can't remember what I read in January and what in December at this point, and I don't know that there's really anything I want to talk about in there anyway, except maybe The Shepherd's Crown, and I'm not sure there's much to say about that anyway. So I'm just going to start with February. Anyway, the main reason I'm starting this is I read hamsterwoman's giant review of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen which made me want to talk about it myself.

i) Agatha Christie, Sleeping Murder. I'd read this before; I'm pretty sure I read all of the Miss Marples when I went on a giant kick when I was eleven. I hadn't picked any of them up since then, but it was still pretty familiar. This all started with a discussion with mrissa a few weeks ago about Grimdark, and eventually post-Grimdark, and I'm not sure quite how I got to the point of expressing confidence that there was rom for cozy mysteries in Grimdark universes, but I thought that was a very appealing idea, and like most of those that I get I wandered off never expecting to think about it again. But then we spent a long weekend at a lodge in northern Minnesota with moiread, chinders, tiger_spot, brooksmoses, suzanne, and andres_s_p_b, and Sleeping Murder was right there on the bookshelf in my bedroom. (Along with Kindred and Zodiac, among other strange selections.) So I read it, and I had thinky thoughts, and now I've embarked on reading A Game of Thrones for the first time to see if anything sparks. So far I'm hating the prose style enough that I doubt I will even get through it, but we'll see.

The book itself wasn't really all that worth mentioning. This was Christie's last novel, and fairly off from the Miss Marple forumla; she hardly gets to do any detecting, and doesn't get to speechify at all about how obviously she knows so much because of her small-town observations of human nature. She wasn't especially necessary to the book.

ii) Lois McMaster Bujold, Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. This was the book I wanted, much like Captain Vorpatril's Alliance was, and I wonder if it will be as much less the book anyone else wanted as that one. We've got these two influential series, the Miles books and the Vlad books, which are all about learning how to grow up well, which is great as far as they go. But I've been poking around for a bit for a few years now, looking for the books which are the equivalent to that for already being a grownup, without a lot of success. Janet Kagan's Mirabile is great for that, but there's only one of it. The secondary plot in Growing Up Weightless speaks to me on that level, but that's kind of creepy. papersky's My Real Children is close, but that's not really what Jo was doing there; similarly the better Colin Cotterills. So I'm pretty happy that Lois went and wrote one. Like most of her books I'll probably have to go through it more than once before it really soaks in.

As a book itself it spoilersCollapse )

Feb. 8th, 2016

Forward Momentum

It's late and there is so much to catch up on.

Twitter's switch to achronology has me thinking of returning to LJ, which remains pretty much the perfect platform for what I want out of social media, apart from there not being very many people here anymore. My LJ is not itself all that appealing a place for new people any more, especially since all of the old photos are now dead links. I have to give some thought on what to do about that. And whether I can afford to procrastinate enough to actually do anything at all. My major project of the last four months has entered the public record phase of its existence, so I can actually talk about it now, if I can find the time. Plenty of other stuff to talk about too, but I actually have to organize it, sometime when I'm more awake than now.

Jan. 1st, 2016

Helo: in command

A short note.

I'm caught up and declaring Inbox Zero for 2016. If I still owe you email, I've lost track of it and you should remind me.

Nov. 19th, 2015

Goodnight Dune

On conventions and various -bilities of importance.

So, World Fantasy time wasn't that long ago, which means that accessibility for the disabled is a hot topic again because World Fantasy can't seem to stop screwing it up. This seems to have boiled down to Mary Robinette Kowal making an Accessibility Pledge to only attend conventions with accessibility policies and trained staff members, and many other people signing on to this. Which is all well and good as far as it goes. It might even do something about this immediate problem. But it doesn't do anything about the more general problem.

I'm hesitant to weigh in on this, because I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be attending any more conventions. (And you're about to find out some of why.) But what bothers me, as both a disabled and an organizational person, about what happened to Mari Ness at World Fantasy is not that they failed to have wheelchair access to her stage, the first time it happened. The temptation is to add "however many years ago that was," but you know, even this year. Sometimes you forget things, sometimes things slip through the cracks. Mistakes happen, and it's OK for them to happen as long as you admit they were mistakes and do something about it.

The problem is that they were unwilling to do that. They said "we're not going to get you a ramp," which, OK, maybe on some level the immediacy made that impractical. And then they said "we're not going to get you a ramp tomorrow either." Their solution to the problem was to make Mari and her fellow panelists come up with a work around for the problem on their own. And that is not acceptable, for reasons having nothing to do with disability specifically, and it is not something that can be fixed by demanding a policy on the thing that happened to go wrong this year, because something else is always going to go wrong next year, something you don't have a policy for yet. And then we end up in a cycle. People in this field already have a portfolio of policies they require of conventions, and pretty soon it's going to be a filing cabinet, because it's about putting bandaids on symptoms and not addressing the core problem.

And what if next year's issue is something that doesn't have a substantial, loud consitutency? Sexual harassment was going on at conventions for a long time before anyone actually started listening to the people being harassed and demanding that something be done about it. What is the thing now that sexual harassment was thirty years ago, that is harming someone and everyone is willing to blow off? (My own experience suggests that taking advantage of artists is one of those things. One of the things in my portfolio of policies that I won't be attending a convention without in the future is one where they pay their artists fairly.)

I want a convention which says "We will get you a ramp," whatever the equivalent of the ramp is that year, whether there's a social media constituency for ramps or not.

I want a convention which, when it unexpectedly makes a profit, doesn't decide to stick its guests with their expenses after enjoying all the benefits of a collaborative relationship.

I want a convention which, when it notices that it comped travel and rooms for some people for the same job other people were volunteering for and paying extra hotel for without any of those people's knowledge, apologizes and makes restitution.

It's not about accessibility, it's about responsibility. And I've come to the conclusion that if I want that convention, it's not going to happen in science fiction. Maybe I'm wrong. But I've seen enough of this cycle now, and I don't want to be in it any more. 

Oct. 14th, 2015



So, the Amirah book is now available on Amazon! Actual book! Many many photos of a baby tapir! Support for me doing more weird projects like this in the future!

For local people, they'll also be available directly through me, though I don't have my copies yet. It looks like I will have them tomorrow.

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