It’s Thankful Thursday!

June 6, 2013

I came across this little weekly blogfest recently, run by Just the Stuff Ya Know,Β and felt I had to join in. So, what am I thankful for this week?

I’m thankful for the great opportunities I have in my life and my writing, like going away to Odyssey in… 3 days, actually more like 2 and a half now.

I’m thankful for a job where I’m treated well and get paid doing things that I enjoy.

I’m thankful for the rain, even though I’m not a big fan of singing in it, and for the sunny days when they come back again.

I’m thankful for air conditioning when it gets too hot, not that I’ve needed them this week.

I’m thankful for my family, and I know that I’ll miss them this summer.

I’m thankful for all the amazing books available on; I spent a little while this evening trying to pick some new ones for the trip, and ended up with eight novels in my shopping cart checkout! πŸ˜‰

I’m thankful for bacon! I haven’t been having much bacon lately with my diet, but I did pick up a pack a while back and froze most of it, and then realized that I needed to use it up before I left town. So I made a bacon tomato sauce last weekend, and I’ve been enjoying that with my pasta. It’s almost done, though there’s one helping that I can take into the office for lunch.

Let’s see… I’m grateful for smartphone GPS apps even when they don’t quite work perfectly, and for old-fashioned print maps that come free from the nice people at CAA.

I’m thankful for all the music that I love, and for tools that let me write my own ways to organize it all.

What are you thankful for today?

May the Fourth be With uth All

May 4, 2013

Happy Star Wars day everybody! (And yeah, I know that’s not an original joke in the title, but I couldn’t resist. πŸ™‚ )

I’m not a huge Star Wars fan, but the original trilogy was part of my childhood. I wasn’t anywhere near old enough to see the first movie in the theater when it first came out, but I got to see it pretty soon, probably on a VCR, specially rented for somebody’s sleep-over birthday party. A boy on a moisture farm buying some droids, Luke flying through a trench in the Death Star, going to a swamp planet to find a legendary Jedi master, Han and Leia recruiting the Ewoks to help them shut down a force field, I loved it all. Surprisingly, there were a few blank spots in my memory at the beginning of “Empire Strikes Back” until recently.

I remember reading some of the Star Wars paperback novels when I was in middle school, particularly the Jedi Academy trilogy with Luke recruiting his own Jedi students. They weren’t my favorite books ever, but I did enjoy reading them.

I’ve got a different perspective on ‘the prequel trilogy’ from most people. I haven’t watched any of those movies straight through, though I’ve seen bits of all three… particularly the end of Attack of the Clones. πŸ˜‰ But before I’d seen any of them, really, I read the novelizations through, and from what I’ve heard I think that the story-telling actually hangs together better that way than in the movies. Which doesn’t say that much for George Lucas, actually, that other writers could clean up his mess and make it more coherent even when they didn’t have the visual medium to work with.

I’m grateful that Star Wars inspired me enough to serve as the primary fandom of my main characters when I wrote my fandom romantic comedy screenplay, ‘Geek at Heart.’ And I’m curious about what the new Disney movies will be like.

If you don’t f*@% with the Culture, then what?

May 19, 2012

Well, it’s a weekend for finishing off books, apparently – I just listened to the last little bit of Surface Detail, a Culture Novel, and one that I first began reading via nearly a year ago, in July 2011, shortly after getting back from the CSSF workshop and determined to familiarize myself with some of the masters of science fiction that I hadn’t been exposed to yet. I also got, at close to the same time:

  • “More than Human”, by Theodore Sturgeon.
  • “Gateway”, by Frederik Pohl.
  • “Timescape”, by Gregory Benford.
  • “Darwin’s Radio”, by Greg Bear.
  • and, a bit later, “Childhood’s End”, by Arthur C. Clarke.

I wanted to get something by Sturgeon and Pohl because they were both selected as theme authors for the 2011 Campbell Conference in Lawrence, and all of the other titles or authors were taken from the reading list of the CSSF Intensive Institute for novels. I didn’t really finish any of them off that quickly, with the possible exception of ‘Gateway’, which I enjoyed considerably, and only got to the end of “Timescape” in February.

Overall, I enjoyed “Surface Detail”, and had fun listening to it, but I’m still not quite sure what to make of it as more than a crazy adventure among the stars. I really wasn’t sure what was going on for the first few hours’ worth of narration, and then some of the plot threads began to gather enough for me to find my bearings. I quickly felt sympathy for Lededje, was intrigued by some of Vateuil’s military derring-do, and loved to hate Veppers. At first, I despised Demeisen/’Falling Outside the Normal Moral Constraints’, (the former is an avatar, the latter a spaceship, but both names essentially represent a single character,) but by the end, I thoroughly enjoyed him as the sadistic asshole that he usually is.

And one of the best parts of the book were the alien civilizations that Iain M. Banks brings to life – the all-too-human Sichultia, the polite and diminutive GFCF, the herdlike conservative Pavuleans, and, of course, The Culture themselves.

Even despite tentative attempts to research the Culture online, (tentatively because I don’t really want to stumble across spoilers for other books,) I don’t really understand them. I know that they’re spacegoing, idealistic, practical, fiercely protective of their own but not generally antagonistic, and have some rather peculiar political and social structures. They have a frankly mind-boggling technological level, and some of the greatest influences from within the Culture are not the organic, mostly ‘pan-Human’ citizens, but the incredibly capable artificial intelligence ‘Minds’ which generally oversee spaceships or other artificial habitats.

Have you read any of the stories of the Culture? What did you think? If not, what’s your favorite science fiction high-tech society?

Clarions and Critters

March 1, 2011

Two updates from last Sunday, actually, that I was too busy to blog about at the time. I got my applications sent on for Clarion 2011 and Clarion West 2011 workshops, so I should hear back from them sometime in March. It’s weird, I’ve been focusing on the stories that I was using for samples ever since January or earlier, but some of the questions on the Clarion application, and the 700-800 word essay requirement for Clarion West, were challenging in their own ways. I may share my Clarion West essay on Friday.

I’m still planning to apply to Odyssey, but even considering the delays of having to send it in by mail, I’ve got a few more weeks before their deadline, and am considering trying a page 1 rewrite of “The Landing” – again, and running it by the crew at Chester’s next week.

I’ve also finally joined the online critiquing workshop, and started working on my first critique for them. It’s really exciting and scary all at the same time – like a Critiquing Month that never ends!

In other news, National Novel Editing Month has started, and I’m going to be keeping track of my hours spent this month, going for the goal of 50 hours, and also keeping track of what I’ve accomplished. I’m counting critiquing and rewrites as Editing for the purposes of my hours count this time.

And I’ve bought the audio copy of ‘A wizard of Mars’ from – I already listened to this week’s chapter on audio, and have gone back and started listening to the ones that I already read, which has been interesting. Mostly I think my reading comprehension with the hardcover was pretty good, but every so often I do hear something that I missed. I’ve gotten nearly up to the end of the Wellakh chapter, in just 3 days of listening.

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