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[personal profile] greygirlbeast
Not a good morning, this. Instead, the sort of morning you just have to keep moving through. Not because there might be something better on the other side, but because the only other option is to stop moving. And somewhere along the winding course of my life, the irrational belief was instilled in me that stopping is a Bad Thing.

Anyway...

Yesterday, post-"vacation mistake" epiphany, I wrote and answered emails. I signed the signature sheets I mentioned. We worked on the line edits for Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart and The Yellow Book (and we're not too far from being finished with that). Today, more. Of everything. I think Kathryn's going down to her mom and dad's place. Would that I were going with her.

---

Yesterday, I was looking back over my Blogger entries from December 2003, and I found this passage, written on the 25th:

I will not get smarmy this morning, because I will not be a hypocrite, but I will wish you all the finest things that I can for the long year to come. Peace and freedom from tyranny and fear and repression, in all ways. The realization of dreams, or at least the luxury of the dreams themselves. The dignity that comes with pain that may not be avoided, and the strength to bear all the unbearable moments in life. Beauty and the eyes to see it. And perspective. And joy, which is a far finer thing than any passing happiness...Spooky and I have had the finest Xmas of any I've enjoyed since the late '80s.

I know why I wrote that, why I found an Xmas I could endure. What I spent a considerable bit of the day trying to puzzle out was exactly how things backslid so much between 2003 and now, what happened in the intervening seven years. Oh, I know the answer: a lot of bad shit. A fall. The whole affair left me sort of sick and confused.

---

Not much else to yesterday. I did manage a decent bit of reading. Three stories: Charles Stross' "A Colder War," Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette's "Mongoose," and Don Webb's "The Great White Bed." I don't think I'm ever going to "get" Stross. I believe he and I must simply exist on different points along the dial. But, reading him yesterday, that old chestnut about SF being the literature of ideas came to mind. Who said that? Pamela Sargent? I think it was her. Anyway, sure, "A Colder War" is a great bundle of interesting ideas. But there's very little in the way of characterization, and without solid characters, a "literature of ideas" is pretty much a textbook. Characters first, and then science. All the technoporn in the world can't save a story from the vacuum created by an absence of solid, believable characters. Also, the Burgess Shale fauna isn't Precambrian, it's Middle Cambrian. Sorry. I know it's poor form, one author publicly grousing about another, but Stross' stories always leave me feeling like I'm missing something that everyone else plainly understands.

As for "Mongoose," it's a beautiful, brilliant, and delightful story. Each of those adjectives was chosen with care, by the way. I'm not just heaping hyperbole. I can also use it to illustrate a point I was trying to make yesterday. I very much dislike Lovecraftian fiction that is parody and/or attempts at literary irony. Almost without fail, they fail, those sorts of stories. The author/s, having decided they cannot possibly take Lovecraft seriously, and that no one else can, either – not in this day and age, and probably not in any day and age – turn/s to satire (usually dimwitted satire). "Mongoose," on the other hand, manages to have a lot of fun with a futuristic extrapolation of Lovecraft's universe, and never once does it feel as if the authors are mocking the source material. It is, I think, a story HPL himself probably would have loved. The difference, I believe, is that "Mongoose" never stoops to parody or derision, but chooses wit and whimsy, instead. Especially whimsy. And it just works. Brava.

It took me forever to get to sleep, but I can't blame Monsieur Insomnia. Not when I didn't get up until one p.m. the day before. I think I finally found sleep sometime after five ayem, after watching the first half hour or so of Clarence Brown's The Rains Came (1939).

Slivy,
Aunt Beast

Date: 2011-12-28 06:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] scott connors (from livejournal.com)
I like Stross, but "A Colder War" always struck me as more of an outline than a story. (Of course HPL himself wrote that the true hero of a weird tale was the phenomenon.) He can handle characterization well, for instance his "Laundry" series contains a number of extremely well drawn personalities. OTOH I also loved "Mongoose," and eagerly look forward to more stories set in the same universe. Did you read their tale "Boojum" in the Vandermeers' anthology FAST SHIPS, BLACK SAILS? It has a FARSCAPE-MEETS-HPL vibe that I think you would enjoy.

Date: 2011-12-28 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

(Of course HPL himself wrote that the true hero of a weird tale was the phenomenon.)

One of many instances in which he was wrong.

Did you read their tale "Boojum" in the Vandermeers' anthology FAST SHIPS, BLACK SAILS? It has a FARSCAPE-MEETS-HPL vibe that I think you would enjoy.

I haven't. I was asked to write for that anthology, but didn't have the time, and never picked up a copy. But your description will now lead me to hunt it down.

Blogger Entry from December 2003

Date: 2011-12-28 08:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oldfossil59.livejournal.com
That's a truly beautiful sentiment. I sincerely hope those feelings can find their way back to you, and remain for as long as you wish.

Re: Blogger Entry from December 2003

Date: 2011-12-28 08:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

I sincerely hope those feelings can find their way back to you, and remain for as long as you wish.

I'd like to believe that, but it seems very, very unlikely.

Date: 2011-12-28 08:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oldfossil59.livejournal.com
I'd like to believe that, but it seems very, very unlikely.


Yeah, Life seems to have a tendency to stick it's twisted fork in one's eye. Just don't let the bastard, keep you from those nice thoughts of that nice farm.

Date: 2011-12-28 08:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Life seems to have a tendency to stick it's twisted fork in one's eye.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Date: 2011-12-28 08:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ashlyme.livejournal.com
I wish you back the best of that old entry, Beast, everything good in it. They are great wishes, and I thank you for them. (sorry, badly needed - Christmas not the best time for my sanity.)

- respects, A

Date: 2011-12-28 08:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Christmas not the best time for my sanity.

I think it's built that way.

Date: 2011-12-28 10:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elliemaeo.livejournal.com
Just a quickie note on your characterization point . . I have always found that also, to be the failing (in my mind) too of much sci-fi. I sincerely want to dive into, explore, and find myself emerged in the world that the author has created . . But the dryness or lack of depth in the POV. . . many times seems to bar my way . . ."those arty types" Picky picky picky

Ellie

Date: 2011-12-28 10:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

to be the failing (in my mind) too of much sci-fi.

And it's often most true of the "nuts-and-bolts" and military "hard" science fiction. Hesitantly, I will go so far as to say that it may even be a gender problem, with male SF writers shying away (or simply not considering) characterization.

Mongoose

Date: 2011-12-28 11:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jessamyg.livejournal.com
"Mongoose" is one of those stories I need to go out and get a copy of. I read it in some compilation or other from the library, Lovecraft Unbound?, and it was love at first read. Definitely one of the best Lovecraftian stories that I have read. It's as if the Pip and Flinx stories by Alan Dean Foster were in a collision with "The Hounds of Tindalos" and Alien.

Re: Mongoose

Date: 2011-12-29 12:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Lovecraft Unbound?,

Yep.

It's as if the Pip and Flinx stories by Alan Dean Foster were in a collision with "The Hounds of Tindalos" and Alien.

Pretty much.

Perhaps you just are brave enough to say so...

Date: 2011-12-29 12:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] whiskeychick.livejournal.com
There are many authors in the SF world that are technoporn experts. Everyone always gets all gaga over them and I don't always get it, unless the technology enhances the character development (ala Phillip K. Dick).

Monsieur Insomnia was at my house instead of yours, I believe.

Date: 2011-12-29 02:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] katesavage.livejournal.com
"What I spent a considerable bit of the day trying to puzzle out was exactly how things backslid so much between 2003 and now, what happened in the intervening seven years."

You offer up so much and have been through too much, it is no wonder you feel that way. May the backslid reverse itself.

Date: 2011-12-29 04:31 am (UTC)
sovay: (Rotwang)
From: [personal profile] sovay
All the technoporn in the world can't save a story from the vacuum created by an absence of solid, believable characters.

Amen.

"A Colder War" is actually the only one of Stross' stories that has ever interested me, but it was also one of the earliest pieces of contemporary Lovecraftiana I ever read at the now-defunct infinity plus. I've branched out since.

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