Jul 21 2012

astronomy picture of the day


This popped up on the Astronomy Picture of the Day website, which I always look at.

It’s not astronomy, nor is it a picture — well, not a single picture, not exactly.

But I’m glad they showed it, because it made me very happy.

You want to go full-screen for this. You absolutely do. Trust me.

Jul 18 2012

I could be blogging about Readercon


But I’m busy, at Starbucks, putting in my writing time before hitting the gym.

I’ve been keeping this open face-down on the table beside me, so that the passers-by know I’m a woman not to be trifled with!

A little like wading through a swamp in the middle of the night, to get to someplace really, really interesting, that you really want to get to.

A little like wading through a swamp in the middle of the night, to get to someplace really, really interesting, that you really want to get to.

Works so far.

More later.

Jul 16 2012

The 101 best whats of which?


Just before leaving for Readercon, as I was waiting for Sabine to show up at my DayJob so we could drive to Burlington MA, I was killing some time browsing the Readercon website.   More or less just because it was there, I clicked on my bio on the Guests page.


This is what I saw:

Rosemary Kirstein‘s eponymous first volume in The Steerswoman series from Del Rey (1989) was recently selected by Damien Broderick and Paul Di Filippo for Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels 1985-2010 and was a Compton Crook finalist . It and its sequel, The Outskirter’s Secret (1992), are available together as The Steerswoman’s Road (2003). Volumes 3 and 4, The Lost Steersman and The Language of Power, appeared in 2003 and 2004, and she is working on the untitled Volume 5 after having done much work on the concluding City in the Crags. Kirstein’s short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s and in Aboriginal SF. You can follow her blog at www.rosemarykirstein.com, or on Facebook. She tweets random non sequiturs on Twitter as @rkirstein.


Wait, what?  I say to myself, The 101 best whats of which?    (Well, actually, the first thing that I say to myself is: That’s not what “eponymous” means.  But after that.)

Well, apparently it is the case.   I am, as the Brits say, chuffed.

There it is

Click. You know you want to.

The link will take you Amazon (and so will this one), where you can read the entry for yourself (and buy the book, because these guys obviously must be encouraged as much as possible!).

Many wonderful things are said about me by these two gentlemen, who obviously have outstanding taste and discernment. Seriously. Their analyses are spot-on. I have clearly been read, and read well.

Plus: Even though it’s The Steerswoman that’s selected to be among the 101 best, they don’t stop there. They go on to recommend the entire series, book-by-book, in detail, which is astoundingly generous of them.

(They also quote the wonderful, Jo Walton, another reviewer who got it right.)

My favorite line: “What Kirstein is doing is portraying how humanity’s innate desire to unriddle the phenomenological universe will persist through all sorts of dark-ages setbacks. Rowan’s adherence to the tenets of her guild make her a kind of proto-scientist, and thus a perfect exemplar of the science-fictional mindset.”

Okay, as a favorite line, that sounds kind of dry… How about: “Kirstein’s compassion for even minor characters is evident on every page, and her prose is measured and alluring without being overworked.”

Ah. My prose is “alluring”. I do like that.

Well, I suppose I could keep gloating. But I’ve just used up most of today’s writing time writing this blog post!

But I must take a moment to say that I believe that what an author most wants in the world is to be understood. Broderick and di Fillipo clearly do understand my work — as did Walton, and any number of you reading this — and what I most feel, really, is gratitude.

Jul 9 2012

It’s Readercon all over again


Yep, Readercon is one of my favorite conventions, and this year I’m at it again. Stand by for my jam-packed convention schedule.

Ready? Here it is:

Friday July 13
8:00 PM CL Kaffeeklatsch. Rosemary Kirstein, Joan Slonczewski.


Sunday July 15

11:00 AM F Performing Books to Ourselves. Ellen Brody, Andy Duncan, James Patrick Kelly, Rosemary Kirstein, Ellen Kushner (leader). In a 2011 blog post, Daniel Abraham wrote, “Reading a book is a performance by an artist (the writer) for an audience (the reader).” But readers also perform works to themselves, imagining characters and settings and events, and perform works to others when reading aloud. In those cases, is the writer taking more of a directorial role, or is there a more complex synergy afoot, especially when we get into audiobooks, fiction podcasts, and other carefully produced performances? How does awareness of these layers of performance shape the ways that writers write and readers read?

12:00 PM E Autographs. Rosemary Kirstein, Ellen Klages.



That’s it.


No, no I do not complain!  Because, you know what?   Every year, at every convention I attend, I’m so wound up about what I’m going to say in the panels I participate in that I rarely have time and mental space to enjoy watching other people’s panels.    This time, I’ll be more free to absorb and enjoy.

Seriously, I could use some inspiration right about now, and conventions are one of the best ways to get some.


So, here’s the list of events I plan to attend:



Right after my kaffeklatsch,  at 9:00 John Crowley is reading.   Is he reading for a half-hour, or an hour?   Because at 9:30, Walter Hunt is reading.    I’d like to hear them both.    But if Crowley’s reading for an hour, he’ll probably win.

At 10:30, there’s the Meet the Schmoes Pros (e) party.   I’ll both be attending and gawking at my favorite writers.   And collecting quotes.   For those of you who don’t know: Most of the authors will have a sheet full of peel-off labels containing a single line from one of their works.   Collect ’em all!  Mix and match!   One of the best things about this (for the shy) is having an excuse to interact with a writer you might admire but who, after all, is really a total stranger.    Works pretty well.



10:00 AM      Book Learning. Gregory Feeley, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Katherine MacLean, Kathryn Morrow (leader), Ann Tonsor Zeddies. In an article for The Guardian in 2008, James Wood wrote that “novels tend to fail not when the characters are not vivid or ‘deep’ enough, but when the novel in question has failed to teach us how to adapt to its conventions, has failed to manage a specific hunger for its own characters, its own reality level.” Not mentioned is the question of what readers bring to this educational experience. Some readers see plenty of character depth in the works of Asimov, Card, Herbert, or Heinlein, but others disagree; are the readers who find those characters too cardboard actually stubbornly refusing to be taught how to like them? When and why do readers choose books that require education in character appreciation, and when we encounter them by accident, what makes us decide to stick with them?

Ah, theoretical stuff — always a good way to rewire my brain.  Plus:  Ann Zeddies, a pal and always a treat on a panel.

11:00 AM      Samuel R. Delany’s Golden Jubilee. Matthew Cheney, Ron Drummond (leader), L. Timmel Duchamp, Elizabeth Hand, Donald G. Keller, Jo Walton. 2012 can be seen as a milestone year in the career of Samuel R. Delany: his 70th birthday; the 50th anniversary of his first novel, The Jewels of Aptor; the 35th anniversary of his classic critical work, The Jewel-Hinged Jaw; the 24th anniversary of being GOH at Readercon 2. Few writers have contributed so much over so long to all aspects of our field—science fiction, fantasy, critical theory, comics, autobiography, editing, teaching, even a documentary film. And he’s still going, with a new novel out this year! This panel will celebrate Delany’s past, present, and future contributions to the field.

I was once introduced to Delaney.   The next time he saw me, he remembered my name.   I can’t think of one other giant of the field of which that’s true.  The man puts my brain in knots.  That’s a good thing.  Ooh, and bonus Jo Walton, whom I love.


Lunch:  I’m hiding out with friends for lunch.   Don’t look for me — I won’t be found!


 3:00 PM  The Rhysling Award Poetry Slan, The Rhyslings are the annual awards of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and Readercon is proud to be their ongoing annual host. (A poetry “slan” — to be confused with “slam” — is a poetry reading by sf folks. If you don’t get the in-joke, ask an sf fan above a certain age)

I was never particularly interested in SF Poetry; then one year I happened to radomly wander into this event at Readercon.   Now I try to never miss it.  Every time, there’s been something that moved me so deeply I had to leave the room to compose myself.

6:00 PM   Writing Motivation Toolbox. Luc Reid. Leveraging recent psychological and neurological research, Luc Reid offers a brief tour of human motivation mechanisms as well as specific ways to get past writer’s block, inspire enthusiasm, sharpen focus, and get words onto the page. Many of the ideas from this talk about writing can be carried over to other areas of life, such as health, business, organization, and relationships.

Okay, naturally I’m interested.   Could be schlock, could be crap, could be pop-psy garbage, or might actually be useful.   We’ll see.


7:00 PM    Wold Newton Reading Extravaganza. Matthew Kressel, Veronica Schanoes, Brian Francis Slattery (leader), Jeff VanderMeer, Jo Walton. ONCE AGAIN AND FOR THE SECOND TIME, Eric Rosenfield and Brian Francis Slattery of the Wold Newton Reading Extravaganza Series will orchestrate yet another INCREDIBLY FANCY SONIC ART EXPERIMENT consisting of ESTEEMED LITERARY PERSONAGES reading TEXTUAL OBJECTS in short bursts, one after another accompanied by LIVE, IMPROVISED MUSIC provided by a FULL BAND, with the intent of creating a kind of unbroken MOSAIC of what Readercon FEELS LIKE. Come witness our spectacular SUCCESS and/or FAILURE

I have no idea what this is.    I guess I’ll find out.

8:00 PM   The 26th Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition. Mike Allen, Rose Fox, Craig Shaw Gardner (leader), Yves Meynard, Eric M. Van (moderator).

I’ve seen a LOT of these, so I probably won’t stay for the whole thing.   I’ll wander in and out, and visit with pals and readers in between.



 10:00 AM     The Seven Deadly Myths of Creativity. Andy Duncan, Joe Haldeman, Steve Kelner (leader), Toni L.P. Kelner, Matthew Kressel, Jennifer Pelland, Luc Reid. What is creativity, really? How does it work? Many people think of it as somehow magical, but in fact there has been considerable neuropsychological research devoted to the process of creativity, and current evidence makes it clear that it is inherent in the human brain: everyone is creative; the question is how to harness it. There are many myths about creativity that not only are unhelpful but have actively blocked or inhibited writers. Fortunately, many of these myths are entirely explicable and avoidable. Stephen Kelner, a research psychologist who is also a professional writer, will give an overview of the myths and the realities, and discussion will further explore individual participants’ questions or challenges.

I might drop by for some of this if I’m not too wound up about my own panel at 11.


And for the afternoon, after my autographing, I’ll just generally hang around and schmooze and socialize, and generally try to delay the inevitable return home, with the DayJob waiting to pounce on me Monday morning.

So… thinking of coming?

Here’s the full schedule, so you can decide better!










Jul 4 2012

Vi Hart’s sonnet for the Higgs(-like)


BoingBoing directed me here, and I’m ever so grateful, because once there I looked at more Vi Hart’s videos, and found them ALL amazing.

Plus: Math!

Okay, I’m a fan now.

Jul 4 2012

Higgs boson? Yeah, we got yer Higgs boson right here…..



And Scientific American.

Ha to all the naysayers.

I am a happy camper!

But– what was that press release Fermilab did on Monday, two whole days before Cern’s?? Where they said, like: Oh, yeah, we’re almost completely absolutely certain the Higgs boson exists, based on all this data we’ve been accumulating for over ten years, that we’ve been sifting through, and you know what? We probably generated LOTS of Higgs bosons, we just didn’t notice at the time…

I do wonder if they had some serious advance notice of the announcement, and decided to make a statement first. Because saying all that after Cern’s announcement would have been tacky!

When I read Fermilab’s announcement, I thought, “Hm.. why are they saying this now? What do they know that we don’t?”

So I was pretty much expecting very good news very very soon.

And here it is! Hooray!

Jul 1 2012



As I was exiting the Cheshire Dunkin’ Donuts, the sky opened up and dumped rocks on us!

icy rocks

I could not get to my car!

These were some seriously large hailstones.

and this was after a certain amount of melting

Coffee creamer included for scale

I had to show someone, so I showed this guy:

random stranger I sat across from in the bizarre conversation pit area

He was impressed!

I like weather. And atmospheric phenomena of all sorts.

Jul 1 2012

an app I heartily endorse


The Funky Monkey is closed on Sunday, much to my chagrin. I’m hunkered down in the nearby Cheshire Dunkin’ Donuts, which I will never come to again because of:

a) four different video screens playing continuous news/sports/ads.
b) not enough tables and chairs, although there’s plenty of floor-space
c) a bizarre conversation pit arrangement with tempting, super-comfy chairs which, once you are in one of them, force you to stare at the random total stranger who happened to sit across from you, while providing only one place to put your drink, that being the big low coffee-table between the two of you, which you must lean far forward to reach, thus forcing you to basically hold your coffee in your hand the entire time, rendering writing either by hand or laptop utterly impossible.
d) songs like “You Are My Sunshine” played continuously over the loudspeakers.

This last can be mitigated somewhat, thank goodness, due to an app I discovered, about which I cannot say enough good things:

Also good for soothing you to sleep

Mix yer own!

I’ve found that I can use this to block out an awful lot of unwanted noise. I find it difficult to not notice sounds around me, which can make working in public a problem. Once I’m swept away by what I’m doing, I’m good — but getting there can be hard if I’m automatically paying attention to conversations, background music, etc.

This little app exists both as a website (http://gomix.it/), and as an app you can buy for your smartphone or iPod. The app version has a timer, too. It costs.. I forget, two bucks or something like.

Worth it.

In other news: Last Monday, Mom & Dad swallow were flitting all around the warehouse, twittering, looking for the kids. By Tuesday, they’d given up. They don’t know, but we know, that the kids are in good hands.