Aug 30 2015

Stealth review of The Steerswoman series, discovered via search for poetry.

Rosemary

You remember Mary Alexandra Agner, right?  I’ve mentioned her before:  Science writer and poet — I signed up as a buck-a-month patron of hers on Patreon. 

Mary sent out an email recently to her Patreon patrons, alerting us to the fact that she had two poems in the January issue of The Cascadia Subduction Zone.   CSZ is a print-form (as opposed to online) literary quarterly, with reviews and essays and poems, with a particular interest in the works of women writers.  Although the physical version costs physical money, CSZ is nice enough to put PDF copies online for free, six months after the original publication.

So naturally, I clicked over and started scrolling down to find Mary’s poems.  But before I got there:  a review of the Steerswoman series, by none other than SFF author Kate Elliot.

Not to keep you in suspense: she likes it!

I found it a really interesting analysis, bringing up aspects I hadn’t thought of before, while highlighting some of the things that I especially do try to accomplish with the series.   I’m so pleased.   Kate is an intelligent, deep-thinking person.  I was most recently impressed with her one-person presentation at Worldcon this year on Narrative Structure and Expectation (alas, I came in late, about when she was talking about the example of modern society’s ingrained expectations of what Cleopatra was like, as opposed to what she was really like…).

So, surprise!  A review  I didn’t know about.   You can pop over and read it, and take a look at Mary’s poems, as well.    (Kate is page 6, Mary is page 15.)


Aug 30 2015

Worldcon 2015 — just the readings.

Rosemary

This was the first Worldcon I’ve gone to in — wait while I look it up — Yikes, 11 years.  The last one I attended was Noreascon  4 in Boston in 2004.  (Plenty of other smaller conventions between now and then, of course.)

I wasn’t able to wrangle any spots on the program this year, so I was in pure attendee mode.  Yes, entertain and inspire me, pros!   I’ll sit right here.

One thing I was looking forward to was the readings.

I heard Pat Cadigan, who I’ve been following on Facebook lately.   She’s doing the whole cancer-treatment deal, so of course there’s a certain amount of fellow-feeling on my part.  She looked amazingly good!  And from her posts, it seems she’s doing a lot, so I think she has a lot more energy than I did during my treatment.   Or a lot more feisty-ness, at least.   I quite enjoyed her story “Cancer Dancer,” a fantasy in which A Way Out is offered…  They put her in the Big Room, expecting a big crowd, and there were a good number of people there.  Oh, and did I mention: She won a Hugo this year (Correction: No, that was two years ago — I don’t know why I mixed that up, I was right in the audience this year watching her as she accepted a Hugo on behalf of Thomas Olde Heuvelt, who couldn’t be there, for his novelette, “The Day The World Turned Upside-Down.”  Thanks for catching my mistake, Pat!)

I also heard John Scalzi, the first time I’ve ever been in his audience, I think.  This is a guy who’s a real natural onstage.   There was a story, some general audience interaction, a little ukulele (at a fan’s request), a phone call from his wife,  all good fun.  The story was an not-yet-published urban fantasy, and was quite a neat idea.   About it, Scalzi said (quoting from memory here): “When most writers do urban fantasy, they do chain-smoking elves.  I do actuarial tables.”

I heard Jo Walton do a bit from her upcoming book, Neccessity, the third of her  books based on Plato’s republic.  No spoilers, sorry!   But I did so like the character in the section she read.  He has, shall we say,  a unique point of view.  Also, Socrates was present, so of course: dialog!

I’ve known E.C. Ambrose (alias Elaine Isaak) for ages, and yet this was the first time I’d ever heard her read.   She read a section from a prequel to her Dark Apostle series, and when she was done, I said, out loud, before any applause: “Wow!”   It was quite exciting!  Elaine  reads really well, and the prose was strong, the characters were very clear, the scenes were filled with tension, and later, action —  really a good performance of good work.

I was also looking forward to Daryl Gregory’s reading — you know how I much I like his stuff.

 

Daryl Gregory's reading. Not shown: Daryl Gregory

Daryl Gregory’s reading. Not shown: Daryl Gregory

We were there!  He was not.

I used Twitter to good effect, tweeting him the photo above, captioned: “@darylwriterguy Daryl Gregory where RU? (snf).”  Sabine commented that perhaps he hadn’t recovered from the Afterparty (a name of one of his books, how do you not know that?).   A fan nearby overheard her and tweeted to Gregory: “There was too much Pandemonium at the Afterparty, so @darylwriterguy missed his reading but We Are All Completely Fine.”   Shortly thereafter, Gregory scurried in, all apologies.  He had mixed up the times on his reading and the one after (Jack Skillingstead, who was sitting right there in the audience with us).  There was no time left to read, but Gregory proceeded to charm us, and amuse us and gave away some books.  It worked!  He’s a hard guy not to like.

And since we were right there, we just stayed for Jack Skillingstead‘s reading.  I had never read anything of his before, and it was quite worth hearing.  I might look him up now.

I’ve been reading Kay Kenyon lately — Sabine recently turned me on to her stuff, and I quite enjoy what I’ve read so far.   So, we caught her reading as well.   The excerpt she read didn’t quite grab me — but I’m definitely going to keep digging in to her work.

But for me, star of the show: Ada Palmer, who read from her upcoming first novel Too Like the Lightning, a story set centuries from now, but told with the tone and style and language of an 18th-century memoir.   It sounds like it should be a gimmick, but it’s not —  it’s a brilliant move, and the execution was spot-on.  I was utterly fascinated, and then frustrated that it won’t be released until next year!  I shall pre-order, needless to say.

Well, you wanted to hear about more than the readings, didn’t you?  But alas: out of time!   I’ll  talk about the other stuff later…

If you wanted an update on the whole Hugo awards vs. Puppies business — there are plenty of sources.  You don’t need me to repeat it right?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about there, here’s an article in the Chicago Tribune on the subject.

Also, you can watch the streaming of the whole ceremony at this link.

 


Aug 28 2015

So exhausted I can barely think straight.

Rosemary

Back from Worldcon, having arrived home at an ungodly hour on Monday night while needing to get up mere hours later for the Day Job, at which I had a full week of work already waiting for me, while the current week’s work did not pause in rolling in.  I have not been able to catch up at all, in tasks or in sleep.

Well: hooray weekend.   (I intended to put an exclamation point at the end of that, but I’m too tired to back-arrow and fix it.)  I plan to sleep lots, enabling me to be up at the peculiar hours of the night that coincide with my best writing time.

I’ll say more tomorrow…

Preview:

Hugos: very interesting indeed, and well worth being there.

Readings attended: Jo Walton, Ada Palmer, Pat Cadigan, & more.

Panels: glad I went.

Music at Jo Walton’s party: So much fun, with Ada Palmer and Lauren Schiller of Sassafrass there, plus Patrick Neilsen Hayden, with surprise performance by me.

Music not at Jo Walton’s party: Astonishing stuff onstage from Ada and Lauren and Patrick.

Spokane: lots of smoke.  Lovely town, not usually this smoky (all those wildfires you hear about on TV?  Yeah.  There were very nearby).

Loved the park.

 

Statue in the park by the river, right outside the doors of the convention center, where we passed it every day.

Statue in the park by the river, right outside the doors of the convention center, where we passed it every day.

Michael P. Anderson

 

Fly.

 

 


Aug 23 2015

At Worldcon, last minute

Rosemary

Well, I said I’d find a bit of time to be available to meet and chat, since I’m not on the program this year — but alas, the time I found is 2PM today, Sunday.  Possibly most of you are leaving already…

But if you’re not gone, I’ll be at Guinan’s Place (that cafe in the exhibit hall) from 2 to 3PM.

Meanwhile, I’m sure I’m not your only source for Hugo News, so you probably already know what happened.  But if you didn’t, here’s an article in The Wall Street Journal on the subject.

Hope your convention (or day otherwise spent) was fun…


Aug 20 2015

At Sasquan — Hello Spokane!

Rosemary

At the World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane Washington, and too busy to post — But I’m tweetin’!  Because it’s easy.

Just random pix, mostly.   Like this:

This life-size liones is a lamp for next month's Chinese Lantern Festival.

This life-size lioness is a lamp for next month’s Chinese Lantern Festival

And this:

 

Tiny author. I could squash him if I wanted.

Tiny author. I could squash him if I wanted.

I’ll put up a bunch of these when I get home.  Meanwhile, you can get ’em fresh on Twitter, where I am: @rkirstein.

 

More soon…

… oh, okay, here’s another:

Found in a Starbuck's. Yes, I said Starbuck's.

Found in a Starbuck’s. Yes, I said Starbuck’s.  Click to enbiggen, because it’s stained glass worth seeing..

 


Aug 16 2015

On Maps

Rosemary

Way back in the misty depths of time, when I sold The Steerswoman to Del Rey Books, a conversation more or less like this took place one day:

Me:  And I think there should be a map, too.

Them: That’s a great idea.  There should definitely be a map!

Me:  Great!  Let’s have a map.

Them: Right.

(silence)

Me: So… I guess we should get this book to whoever is doing the map —

Them:  — and that would be you.

Me:  Me?

Them: You.

I had never made a map.  I loved maps.  I’d read atlases for fun, and dream of far-off lands… but I’d never done one.

But now I had to do it — and it seemed I had to do it really soon.   I grabbed every fantasy-style book with a map that I could find, got to the art store, figured out what I needed…

Hey, this was before the Internet, okay?  Well, not completely before, but well before the Internet was a useful tool for the average tech-savvy person to use for research.  All my research was in person with physical books in libraries.

In the end, I managed to produce a map that did the job.

So… if you purchased a first edition of The Steerswoman, this is what you saw:

ouch

Ouch.

Sad. Very sad.  But the best I could do at that point.

And I discovered something: I liked doing it.   It was fun.  And if you like something, you tend to get better at it.

Here’s the map that goes along with the  The Steerswoman now:

Use CTL+ and CTL- to zoom in and out.

Click for full size, then  CTL+ and CTL- to zoom in and out.

If you read the ebook on an iPad, or a Kindle Fire, this map is zoomable right in the book.  And you can zoom a lot.   If you’re on a Kindle Paperwhite, or other non-color Kindle, it’s not zoomable — but still clear, and rather pretty (I also provide a URL to see the map online).

I’ve always had the idea that each book’s map will expand on the previous, so that your view of Rowan’s world will expand as her knowledge grows.   When Del Rey did the omnibus of the first two books combined (as The Steerswoman’s Road) I had to combine the map for The Outskirter’s Secret with the map for The Steerswoman, and I feel we lost that sense of the world expanding.  But now that they’re separate again as ebooks, I can have a different map for the second book again:

 

As ever, bigger is but a click away.

As ever, bigger is but a click away.

 

And by the time The Lost Steersman comes around:

 

Eastward expansion...

Eastward expansion…

Each map shows Rowan’s understanding of her world as of the beginning of the book (more or less).

The latest map, of course, is for The Language of Power —

Wait, do you really want to see that one?  Because it contains MAJOR SPOILERS for The Lost Steersman!  If you haven’t read that yet, you might not want to go there…

Well, if you must, then click this link.

And what’s coming up?

More.

Also, more detail.  As well as widening the view, the next books will include some closer views of important locations.   Of course, I’m really looking forward to The Crags map, because of the extremely interesting way that city is laid out.

And in other news:  Going to Worldcon!   I might not be able to post much for the next, although I should manage a tweet or two (I am @rkirstein).

Maybe I’ll see you there…

 

 

 

 

 


Aug 11 2015

You know how you get back from an SF convention, and you feel kind of blue?

Rosemary

Because it was so great, and now you’re not there any more?

Yeah, I got that after Readercon.

Reason for Readercon.

Random person at Readercon doing what the convention is all about.

— except that it was delayed by my usual post-con hangout with Ann Zeddies and Geary Gravel.  During which, by the way, we did not do our usual arts&crafts with collages and/or collaged book-boxes, because  we were reading to each other!

Yes!  New stuff, from all three of us.  This is an unusual circumstance.  Generally, it has been observed that only one of us at a time seems to be productive, and we swap it around between the three of us.  But not this year!  Each of us had new stuff to read to the other two.  And then — we did it again! Two sessions of readings.  So happy.

And then when I got home: postcon blues.

But!  No time for that, because the Schrodinger sessions were just around the corner!  And what a blast that was.  Kind of like a convention only better because of real, actual science!   I was in heaven.

400

This is what science looks like.

 

Taking place here.

Taking place here.

And… then, back home, and the day job…  squeezing in the writing at night and on weekends…

So, that would create sort of a double-dose of post-con blues?

But no time for the blues, because next, very soon: Worldcon!  I haven’t been to a Worldcon in years and years.   It’s gonna be great.

Yeah.  And after that… triple post-con blues?

Like, this comic by Abby Howard.

Ah, hell.  It’s worth it.

Plus: extra motivation to shed this day job.   ‘Cause, then I’d never have to go back to it!  I like that idea.

Let’s think long and hard about that, shall we?

 

 

 


Aug 4 2015

Hitting the ground running, but not in any particularly desirable direction.

Rosemary

Yep. Back, as I said, from the Schrodinger sessions. And now also back at the day job. With various forms of job and non-job crap hitting various fans located at especially inconvenient intervals, and requiring immediate attention or emails or unavoidable hair-tearing.

I can’t, yet, do a full write-up of the Schrodinger sessions…

So, over the next few days I’ll post some moments, including occasional pics (a few of which I already tweeted, but might be new to you).

Like this:

A lot of the photographs I took were of people pointing at things they had written on blackboards and whiteboards, and slides.   This is because they were saying fascinating things.  Here Chris Monroe explains quantum teleportation.

quantum teleportation

Does not work on people.

Earlier, Mohammed Hafezi tried to convince  us that regardless which side of the box you looked in, the chances of which state you’d observe were 50/50.

This was especially tricky...

This was especially tricky…

 

And Chad Orzel shared this lovely photo of the lovely building itself, from ground level looking up in the central well:

 

 

The central well.

The central well.

 

And of course, I got to have dinner with the most diverting of companions:

Why, yes, that's Jack McDevitt and Jeff Carver.  Jealous?

Why, yes, that’s Jack McDevitt and Jeff Carver. Jealous?

 

More later.   I need to turn in soon, so I can go do very mundane things early in the morning….

( DMV.  It doesn’t get more mundane than that.)


Aug 2 2015

Yes, I’m back from the Schrodinger Sessions…

Rosemary

And it was absolutely wonderful!

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that science is boring. Science is thrilling and mind-bending, and full of beauty and strangeness.

And… I have no time to blog today! I’m all time-crunched between Readercon earlier in July, Schrodinger just finishing, and Worldcon coming up in a couple of weeks. All the way on the other side of the country.

I’ll try to say more tomorrow…