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seanan_mcguire August 27 2014, 10:40

The smell of hospitals in winter, and the feeling that it's all...

...a lot of oysters, and no pearls.

This is the shape of my 2014, with travel dates and everything. Beautiful travel dates. Hope to see you in the months to come! We are now solidly into 2015, as 2014 fades into fall and slides toward leaving. Which is terrifying in its own right, if you think about it.


"Lady Antheia's Guide to Horticultural Warfare," August 30 (Clockwork Universe).
The Winter Long, September 2.
"Midway Relics and Dying Breeds," September 24 (Tor.com).
"Snakes and Ladders," October 14 (website).
"The Fixed Stars," November 4 (Shattered Shields).
"Turn the Year Around," November 14 (Harvest Season).
Symbiont, November 25.
"Knit A Sweater Out of Sky" (print edition), November 25 (Dead But Not Forgotten).
"White As A Raven's Wing," December 9 (website).

"No Sooner Met," January 6, 2015 (website).
"Broken Paper Hearts," February 14, 2015 (website).
"The Happiest Place...," February 2015 (Wastelands 2).
Pocket Apocalypse, March 3, 2015.
"In Skeleton Leaves," April 7, 2015.

"The Moon Inside," unknown.
"Long Way Down," unknown.
"Driving Jenny Home," unknown.
"Rolling in the Deep," unknown.
"Opening Band," unknown.
"There is No Room For Sorrow in the Kingdom of the Cold," unknown.
"Best Served Cold," unknown.


Filk Continental, October 3-5, Hamburg Germany.
Windycon, November 14-16, Chicago IL.

ConNooga, February 27-March 1 2015, Chattanooga TN.
Eastercon: Dysprosium, April 3-5 2015, London England.
BayCon, May 22-25 2015, Santa Clara CA.
Westercon 68, July 2-5 2015, San Diego CA.
Tuscon, October 30-November 1 2015, Tuscon AZ.
Chessiecon, November 27-29 2015, Baltimore MD.

No fixed deadline/being written/unsold:

The Best Thing
"Target Practice"
"Carry Me Home"
"Pixie Season"
"These Antique Fables"
"All the Pretty Little Horses"
"Brotherly Love"
"Split Ends"
"Sleeping Beauty"
"False Love's Kiss"
Chaos Choreography

Again, to clarify some recent confusion: some things, especially novel-length things, may appear more than once, on both the "publication date" and "being written" lists. This is because the "being written" list is an aggregate, which also includes "no fixed deadline" (IE, being written on spec or for the website) and "unsold" (IE, being written because I can). So new books will appear there for a long time before they vanish, since books take a long time to write, but may also have pub dates listed higher up.

Look at that list. It's so shiny!
alankria August 27 2014, 09:45

Books read (Morton, Hamilton, Strahan, Cho, Warren, Liu)

I'm quickly discovering the pointlessness of reading boring books. It's one thing if I'm planning to engage with a bad book re: gender for Tor.com, but not if I'm just reading for fun. I lost interest in Alison Morton's Inceptio a bit over halfway through (interesting premise -- a Roman nation surviving to the modern day led by women -- let down by flat writing, with barely any time spent talking about that nation and its gender politics because the main character is too interested in her boring by-the-numbers heterosexual romance), while I read the opening story of Peter F. Hamilton's Manhattan in Reverse (free at WFC 2013), went "Mehh" and decided I had many better books to read instead.

On to the better books!

Jonathan Strahan, ed. The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 8 (Solaris Books: 2014)

Like any Year's Best, this is a mixed bag. I particularly liked Yoon Ha Lee's "Effigy Nights", M. John Harrison's "Cave and Julia" (I hadn't read any M. John Harrison in a few years and I'd forgotten how much I enjoy the way he writes the subtly, devastatingly weird in the real world), Lavie Tidhar's "The Book Seller", Benjanun Sriduangkaew's "Fade to Gold" and Karin Tidbeck's "Sing". Others were enjoyable, if less memorable. Others were not. There's a definite presence of non-conservative stories here, a variety of voices, but not enough, and then the second-to-last story -- Ian McDonald's "The Queen of Night's Aria" -- is a retro-style adventure on Mars where women are retro-style sidelined, and it's so irredeemably backwards-looking that I don't see the point, what is this for? It speaks to a conservative thread that runs through this anthology alongside the forwards-looking thread. It's apt: the tension between conservative and forwards-looking in SFF was a significant feature of 2013 -- and 2014, too, and 2015, I don't doubt -- but I really just look forward to leaving this tension behind.

Zen Cho, Spirits Abroad (Fixi Novo: 2014)

I love Zen Cho's writing! It's funny, comforting and clever. Spirits Abroad collects some of Zen's short stories, which are often about families or friends -- not always living, not always human, not always on Earth -- but always important, if often difficult. The characters are so down-to-earth (that's... a bad pun for the earth spirit and Liyana, sigh), no matter who they are and whatever they're dealing with, whether an unexpected forum attendee or a difficult grandmother or moving to the Moon. I had a really great time reading Spirits Abroad and I hope other people will too! Zen has helpfully listed where you can buy the book. (I also like that the publisher's manifesto at the front of the book says "italics are a form of apology" re: italicising non-English words.)

Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem, translated by Ken Liu (Tor: 2014)

I got an ARC. I'm glad: it's an interesting science fiction novel. It has several narrative threads. Young scientist Ye Wenjie falls afoul of political upheaval in the 1960s and is assigned to a mysterious base where she works for the following decades. In roughly the present day, scientist Wang Miao receives mysterious, scientifically impossible threats if he continues his nanomaterials research. In the game of Three Body, Wang observes -- and contributes to solving -- the problem of sustaining life on a strange planet with three suns and periods of atmospheric chaos and stability.

The game segments most interested me, as well as Ye Wenjie's career: she's a compelling character, even if I strongly dislike the conclusion that humans will never redeem themselves and require outside intervention. It shifts responsibility away from us. It denies the possibility of hard work and change. Ye's experiences are pretty awful, so her conclusion is not that surprising, and fortunately the book points out the biggest problem with the idea of benevolent intervention. Back to the game segments. They, like the rest of the book, involve a lot of science! It's no surprise that they involve the titular three-body problem, which is especially fun when there's a planet added to the system and life has to evolve on the planet. I liked this aspect the best. It's incredible to imagine life surviving in such harsh conditions -- the sort of what-if I want in science fiction about space. (De-hy-drate...) It's a bit sly in places (the in-game personae of at least two prominent Western scientists are played by Chinese gamers -- one of them Wang), and fun to follow to its conclusion(s), which helps to compensate for Wang's lack of personality.

The prose is nothing to remark on and while there are varied female characters, there are also unnecessary moments such as a young woman being described as "so soft that the bullet hardly slowed down as it passed through [her body]". Right then. It's very het and binary-gendered. Some of the footnotes explaining cultural references are cringingly obvious, but I'm sure this is an impossible balance to strike. Fortunately the unnecessary moments are only moments, not the tone of the book: it's scientific/hard science fiction that doesn't think science/the future is 100% white men! More than just that, it's fun science and I liked a lot of the story. I look forward to the second and third books in the trilogy.

Kaaron Warren, Walking the Tree (Angry Robot: 2010)

Free at WFC 2013. A secondary world fantasy novel I enjoyed sinking into: lots of worldbuilding (bones! ghosts! creepy tree!), a good story and a gender set-up that's not out of a privileged man's erroneous wet dream about the past.

Communities called Orders live around the Tree that takes up almost an entire island. Almost all children go on Schools: walking around the Tree, learning as they go, for the five years it takes for a full circumnavigation. Their teachers are young women, who each typically stay in one of the Orders along the way, ensuring genetic diversity. Men rarely move between Orders after school-age, instead enjoying power within their Orders, such as choosing the young women to be teachers. Women move between Orders as teachers, enjoying a privileged welcome into each Order and the freedom to choose where they stay (for the most part). Often, older women walk too. In all but the worst Order, women have access to contraception, their consent is respected and they are free to stay or move on as they choose.

This set-up does a decent job at disrupting the gendered assumptions of most secondary world fantasy, although it doesn't quite dismantle and rebuild. The (most) women = mothers thread was strong, although a mother can walk away around the Tree without her children. Men hold what I'd generally call 'political power'. There's an echo of our gender imbalances. The echo isn't strong enough to put me off. There are gay/lesbian characters (though the main character is relentlessly heterosexual), but I wish the book had reached the Order where many of the gay and lesbian people of the island live (or, say, normalised non-heterosexuality more so they don't have to go to that one Order). It's thoroughly binary-gendered. Walking the Tree isn't everything I'd like to see in secondary world fantasy, but it's a decent read and I'm glad I got it.
seanan_mcguire August 27 2014, 09:18

Flashback: And then Seanan went to London.

I flew Virgin Atlantic to the UK, as is my wont: when I can stay within the Virgin family of airlines, I am a happy rabbit. I had a window seat on the Lady Penelope. I also had my housemate's cold, which he had handed off to me as a thoughtful parting gift. (Given the length of the flight, I am sure the people around me also had my housemate's cold by the time we landed. I am so sorry. I thought I was done with the cold, until we got into the air and the cabin pressure said "ha ha have some snot.") Lastly, I had Kate's old iPad, which she has kindly loaned to me for the duration of the trip. Loaded on the iPad, I had all of Leverage and all of Fringe.

I slept a little. I read a few pages of my book. I ate the airline food, which was surprisingly excellent. But most of all, I watched Leverage. Ten and a half hour flights leave a lot of room for television. Big, big thanks to Meg, whose clever little portable charger allowed me to top off the iPad every time it started yearning for a bigger battery. I drained that sucker dry, and I have no regrets.

So before I flew, I had been a sensible girl, and booked a car service to take me and Vixy from Heathrow to our temporary hotel in Crawley (near Gatwick). Only it turns out that we hadn't been that sensible, as Vixy called me before I got to the airport in San Francisco to tell me that she was flying into Gatwick, a fact that we had both forgotten. Oops. I wound up in the car alone, and had a lovely chat with Colin, the driver, about spiders and New Zealand and the wildlife of England. A+ car service, would screw up booking again.

Vixy had already landed by this point, about an hour and a half before me. Her name was not actually on the hotel room, but she had a copy of the Expedia booking, and the front desk let her into the room, where she gloried in the presence of a decent bed. I showed up, and we summoned Amy before having a wander and dinner in the (overpriced, under-qualitied) hotel restaurant. Then we went to bed, and when I woke up the next morning? I had become the plague queen.

Amy went to the Boots and bought a bunch of cold remedies, including a cough syrup which turned out to contain, no shit, chloroform. It tasted funny. (Brooke was quite distressed when I told her about it.) Amy spent the next few days looking dreamy and saying "I chloroformed my girlfriend." Of such simple pleasures is the world made. I, on the other hand, spent the next day in bed, yearning for death. The day after that, my fever had broken, and it was time to decamp for LonCon3.

Wes met us at the train station and carried our bags to the hotel. Wes is a god among men.

Vixy and I were in the Aloft, the hotel nearest to the convention, while everyone else was in the Novatel at the other end of the convention center. Oops. Such is the consequence of lottery booking. And as this takes us to the end of the pre-con travel and the start of the convention, I shall continue later.

mizkit August 27 2014, 08:59

10 movies

I’ve been working on this list for a while, and in the past few days an actual meme of it seems to have popped up on Facebook, so I don’t know, maybe it’s in the gestalt. It was surprisingly difficult to come up with the list.

Ten movies I will watch over and over again, in no particular order:

1. While You Were Sleeping
2. The Cutting Edge
3. The Replacement Killers
4. The Hunt for Red October
5. A Knight’s Tale
6. Sliding Doors
7. Maverick
8. Robin Hood (Disney)
9. The Princess Bride
10. Much Ado About Nothing (Branagh, tho possibly Whedon too)

Share this:

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

rosefox August 27 2014, 08:03

"Fuzz. Brrr."

Two big bugs managed to get in from the front garden today. I got one and Alex got the other. He may be a brat sometimes but it sure is useful having a trained killer in the house. I gave him a treat and then emailed the landlord about having an exterminator come poison the garden again.

This post is basically just an excuse to use this userpic.

You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is comment count unavailable.
james_nicoll August 27 2014, 05:40

Evidence for Supernovas Near Earth

It seems obvious that you wouldn't want a supernova exploding near Earth. Yet there is growing evidence that one did—actually, more than one. About 10 million years ago, a nearby cluster of supernovas went off like popcorn. We know because the explosions blew an enormous bubble in the interstellar medium, and we're inside it.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.
difrancis August 27 2014, 05:36

On the more disgusting side, and also happy news

I don’t brush my dogs’ teeth. Instead, I clean them by letting them chew on beef bones. This has never failed before.

*Cue last Saturday*

We were heading out to the state fair, so I decided it was a good time to give the doggies a bone. They could chew all day, and they’d have clean teeth when we got home. It was a good plan. Then . . .

I woke up in the middle of the night and had to go to the bathroom. It was a miracle I didn’t step into poop. I came back to bed and for whatever reason, I turned on the light. And there, a gift lay on the floor. I cleaned it up. What else could I do?

Then the next morning, what should my husband encounter right in front of the door, but another gift? He cleaned it up. He leaves for work. (that was a 4:45 a.m.). I go downstairs to let the dogs out around eight and found yet another gift from sometime the night before. I know almost when and which dog.

It gets better.

The next night, I let the dogs out and left them out for a couple hours before bed. Apparently they decided they’d go chew on their bones and not do any other business. You see where this is going. Yep, the next morning there was not one, not two, not three, but FOUR pee spots right near the door. These had either occurred after my husband departed, or he got amazingly lucky getting out the door.

That afternoon, we deep-cleaned the carpet up and downstairs. Then the dogs spent last night in a corral in the kitchen. They will be there tonight, as well. They made no house gifts today.

Either I must a) brush the dogs’ teeth, or b) cook the bones? Something? Yeah.

But wait! It gets better!

My son gets in the shower on Sunday. We have a tankless waterheater. This means that he can stay in there for a year and the water won’t get cold. He used to take short showers. They’ve been gradually lengthening. This one was probably a 1/2 hour long. Periodically we’d been finding damp spots downstairs in the laundry room. We thought it had something to do with the washer. Nope. The upstairs tub/shower. As my son’s shower goes on, water drips out of the vent fan in the laundry room. Drip splat! Drip splat!

The plumber came today and changed out a cartridge in the faucet. He believes this will solve the problem. I am hoping.

Also, the good news! Trace of Magic releases in just two days!!! You can preorder the print version from Amazon right now.

BN and other outlets will follow shortly. I’ve got a post up on Magical Words this week about it and where some of the ideas came from.

Originally published at www.dianapfrancis.com. You can comment here or there.

calendula_witch August 27 2014, 05:09

This We Did Not Need

Despite all the busy and the too-much-social, we are trying very hard to get/stay in shape. So yesterday we rode our bikes to the gym, as we do.

And when we came back out, not quite an hour later…Mark’s bicycle had been stolen.

They cut through a supposedly-unbreakable lock (a $99 lock) and left it lying on the ground in two pieces, and no bike. In broad daylight, mid-afternoon, in front of the giant plate glass windows right by the gym’s front desk. Oh and with security guards right nearby.

Fortunately (I guess), they left my bike, which, though I love it very much, is an old cheap beater. So I could ride home and get the car and go back and pick Mark up.

He went to the bike store today and showed them the lock…they were gobsmacked, they’d never seen one of those locks broken before.

So he’s ordered a new bike, which should be here next week, and which represents a giant pile of money we don’t have to spend on such things. I did talk to my homeowners insurance company, but, since we’re not yet married, it’s not covered. And, even if it were covered, probably we wouldn’t want to make a claim, because of the deductible, and the fact that I’d lose my discounts, because of filing a claim.


This, on top of the pernicious virus attack last week…the world feels like an abusive and evil and dangerous place, full of predators and assholes and monsters, and like no matter how hard you work to stay afloat, to keep up, something is always there to try to rip you off and knock you down.

It’s frustrating, I tell you. Assholes. May they have boils in private places, and canker sores which do not heal.

Originally published at Shannon Page. You can comment here or there.

pegkerr August 27 2014, 05:05

Other news, very briefly

because it's late and I'm exhausted.

Rob is out of the hospital. He finally got out yesterday afternoon.

We learned on Monday that Delia is officially a college student again. Yay! We leave tomorrow night--Rob's brother Phil is coming from Eau Claire to pick us up with Delia's stuff, for complicated reasons, and then we move her into the dorm Thursday morning.

Today, Fiona, Delia and I had one last Afternoon Tea at Cafe Latte to celebrate. Sorry the selfie's blurred.

Triple selfie

Tea Spread

Fiona contemplates tea

This entry was originally posted at http://pegkerr.dreamwidth.org/1714875.html. There are comment count unavailable comments on the post.
pegkerr August 27 2014, 04:58

Peg and Fiona - Ren Fest 2014

It was bloody hot, and I was exhausted by the time we got home, but it was still a wonderful time, as always.

Here are a couple of pics of the way we looked when we started the day. I had a new chemise by the time we got home, as my old one was about fifteen years old and the elastic was completely out of shape. In the selfie, you get an idea of Fiona's new haircut.

Peg and Fiona Ren Fest 2014

Fiona pirate Insouciant Ren Fest 2014

This entry was originally posted at http://pegkerr.dreamwidth.org/1714547.html. There are comment count unavailable comments on the post.
billroper August 27 2014, 03:49

Well, That Was an Adventure

Julie has an ear infection and was prescribed antibiotics. Since she had the amoxicillin rash last year, this is somewhat more challenging. But since she'd successfully taken the Zithromax pills, we figured the pills would be ok.

And the first three or four were.

Today, it turned into a battle. I'm not sure how daisy_knotwise finally got the pill down her, but it took more than two hours. And we may now be short one pill, although I'm sure we can get an extra from the pharmacist if we call the doctor.

But, oh boy.
stillsostrange August 27 2014, 03:33

Still So Strange Studios

Today I'm excited to announce the launch of Still So Strange Studios.

The roller-coaster that was 2013 and 2014 has left me with the desire for creative outlets, and the need to make money on those creative endeavors. And while writing will always be my first love and career, it's not exactly known for its steady paychecks. So I turn back to jewelry-making.

Necromancer fans take note: the uppermost perks are made with you in mind.

And LJ doesn't want to embed, apparently, so follow the link to my IndieGoGo page.

asakiyume August 27 2014, 02:41

August 25 in Pen Pal--and the waters of the moon

Yesterday I neglected to post what happened on August 25 in Pen Pal, so I will tell you today. Kaya's memories took a dark turn:

I won’t write more just now. I don’t like recalling those next hours and days. If I start to, the memories spring to life too real, too vivid.

. . . On a more pleasant note, what is your favorite lunar body of water?

Here is a handy list to choose from. I think I like the Sea of Vapors and the Ocean of Storms. The lakes are also good: there is a Lake of Autumn, and for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, a Lake of Spring, and also lakes of perseverance and forgetfulness. There is a Marsh of Epidemics and a Bay of Rainbows.

bay of rainbows
Crop of this photo, by Olga Gladysheva

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