Jan 13 2020

Well into the new year already


Two weeks into the new year, with too many projects (writing and not) wanting my attention.  They’re sort of having a little wrestling match in my brain.

This might be more interesting if they wore cool outfits with sequins and capes, and had fancy monikers, and muscles out to here, and yelled insults before smashing metal chairs over each other’s heads.  Instead, it’s more like a high-school wrestling match: everybody has the same uniform, wears proper head protection, and they basically grab and pin each other down —  and then wait for the judge to make the call.  Some of them have to take of their glasses to hand to a teammate before getting in the ring.

Ah, but I promised that one story that I would give it my all, so that’s at the top of the list.  That and all the non-writing life chores that can’t be avoided, of course.

Meanwhile, the first full moon of the year certainly was a pretty thing.

Wolf Moon of January, seen from my office window.

Christmas Eve was a fun gathering in the home of some nearby, especially-beloved friends; and then Christmas Day was just me and my sister and our little potted tree, with a few presents.

Herschel the Snail was hoping for a replacement for his missing antenna for Xmas, but was disappointed.

New Year’s even quieter, as I spent it in my office.  Hey, that’s prime creative time for me, around midnight!  I had to set an alarm so I could watch the live-stream of the Times Square ball-drop.

One lovely Xmas/ New-Years treat was a broadcast by the BBC, Playing in the Dark :  Neil Gaiman reading from some excerpts of his works, with musical interludes by the BBC Symphony Orchestra.  Aside from writing well, Gaiman reads his work beautifully.  Plus, David Tennant read a bit too: from Gamain and Pratchett’s Good Omens, which you really don’t want to miss hearing. So delightful.  The link above is good until January 20th, I believe, after which it will vanish.

There was a second BBC broadcast of  Gaiman’s work, this one a dramatic reading of his story “Chivalry.”  Glenda Jackson and Kit Harrington did the main roles.  But I have to say — it didn’t really appeal to me.  I wasn’t fond of the story in its original story form, and the dramatic reading didn’t change my mind.  Hey, just because I like most of what Neil Gaiman does, it doesn’t mean I love everything he does.  Of course, your mileage may vary, and this one is available until the 23.  Check it out for yourself.

And of course, a New Year does mean adding books to your To Be Read pile!  I do want to recommend some — but I have to say that, inexplicably, most of the books I’ve read in the last few months were… less than satisfying, shall I say?  Well, disappointing, really.  I seem to have hit some doldrums.  I’m not going to name names here — it’s not as if reviewing books was my job or something!  I see no reason to express my dislike of some books that obviously other people really enjoyed a lot.

But in general, I do not like:

  • clunky prose.
  • lazy prose
  • stories where the author thinks they are writing rich and beautiful prose, but they actually have the literary equivalent of a tin ear, and are making a fool of themselves, really, someone should stop them for their own good
  • clunky prose and lazy prose and overly-rich prose jammed together sloppily and passed off as “experimental.”
  • characters that are largely indistinguishable from each other
  • stories where people spend the entire time analyzing their own reactions
  • stories that just go along aimlessly until something reasonably interesting happens and the author decides it would make a nice dramatic ending, ignoring the fact that nothing else in the book integrates with it at all

Well, that’s just my recent reading. Things are looking up.

Thankfully, I seem to have broken that streak by picking up (finally!) Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars.

The Calculating Stars: A Lady Astronaut Novel by [Kowal, Mary Robinette]

I’m quite late to the party on this one, as often happens.  I haven’t got very far into it yet — but Kowal won the 2019 Hugo and Nebula for this book, and hey: subject matter close to my heart. Yes, I was a space-program nut back in the day. Plus, I’ve actually been at the controls of a Cessna!  (I started studying piloting in my teens, but did not end up getting a license.)  I’m enjoying the book so far — including some sly little turnarounds that made writer-me smile.

And also late to the party on this one:

This Is How You Lose the Time War by [El-Mohtar, Amal, Gladstone, Max]

I love this book.  It is rich and lush, and crazy — and at the same time one of the most tightly-knit stories I’ve seen.  You really have to keep your eye on the ball, but the payoff is worth it.


Delia Sherman’s The Porcelain Dove just got re-released — and the ebook is only $2.99, so that’s very good news.  If you missed this one first time around, now’s your chance.

The Porcelain Dove by [Sherman, Delia]


In other news: SF author, pal and all-around good guy Jeffrey A.  Carver was in Puerto Rico during the various earthquakes.  He is well, the family is well, the house is standing… others, of course, were not so fortunate.  You can read about the events in his blog (and check out his books while you’re at it).


In other other news:


It’s Connecticut.  It’s the middle of January.