greygirlbeast: (newest chi)
I predict a third day of higgledy piggledy.

I have just discovered that I receive messages via LiveJournal. There are, in fact, 64 of them I have never read, because I never knew they existed. I suspect some may go back to 2004, when I made the jump from Blogger to LJ. Why do I need to get messages at LJ (or Facebook, or Twitter)? I have a perfectly good email address? Anyway, if you've written me at LJ and not received a reply, it's because I'm a technological dullard, not because I'm ignoring you.

Yesterday was meant to be a day off. I looked up from finishing my story for The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities (still no title), and realized I'd not left the House for nine days. It just happens. So, we were going to the shore. But as soon as we went Outside, it got cloudy and chilly, and we only made it as far as Newbury Comics, where we got the new Grinderman CD and a comic box of the wrong size. The comic box is because I took all my issues of The Dreaming down off the shelf where I keep books I've written and anthologies I've been in, because I'm probably never going to write comics again, and I needed the shelf space. But this comic book box is enormous, so Spooky's going to store patterns in it, and I'll get a small one later.

I spend a lot of energy trying to avoid politics in my LJ. Why? Because I hate the flamewars that inevitably follow. I thought I'd left that shit behind when I finally escaped the wretched clutches of Usenet. But I commented yesterday, on Facebook and on Twitter, about the Pope's asinine remarks comparing Atheism to Nazism, and, before the day was over, I'd been accused of being anti-Semitic (?!?), and intolerant (?!?), and ignorant of history (?!?). I actually had to tell someone on Facebook to shut up. I'm not sure I've ever told anyone on the web to shut up. At least not in so many words. Anyway, he didn't, so I had to ban him, and I hate doing that shit. I may simply avoid Facebook for a time, since it won't allow me to turn off or screen comments.

Just for the record, I'm not being intolerant by getting angry when someone calls me intolerant for complaining about the intolerance of the Roman Catholic Church (which, by the way, condemns who I am on several levels, and can go fuck itself).

Enough of that crap. I get started, and I'll go on and on. About France's racist decision to ban the wearing of burkas, for example. Or the environmental nightmare caused by planned gadget obsolescence. Or how scary the Teabaggers are becoming.

Speaking of which, I think I've begun to suspect that NIN's Year Zero wasn't so much about Bush's America, as it was a display of prescience on Trent Reznor's part, and the album's really about America after a couple of terms under a Teabagger administration.

But...never mind.

Last night, we watched the remake of The Crazies by director Breck Eisner (produced by George Romero), and starring Timothy Oliphant and Radha Mitchell. I loved it. An amazingly tense and atmospheric film. Very gory, but the gore is handled with wonderful finesse and indirection, making it effective, instead of overwhelming or humorous. The cinematography and score both took me by surprise (in a good way). I never much cared for the original, but the remake is one of the scariest films I've seen in a while. And no, it's not a zombie film, just like Twenty Eight Days Later wasn't a zombie film.

Today, I need to read all the way through this new story that does not yet have a name.

Oh, and my thanks to everyone for the wonderful (and not infuriating) comments to this journal over the last couple of days. I ought to repost a few of them, especially on the subject of science fiction.
greygirlbeast: (newest chi)
Here we go with the higgledy-piggledy again. It's a coolish day here in Providence, but sunny. After the anticlimax of Hurricane Earl, summer collapsed like a leaky balloon. Now it's sweater weather again.

I love that William Gibson tweeted "Johnette Napolitano is my Anne Rice. Seriously. Wonderful writer."

Yesterday, I finished writing my story for The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, though it still doesn't have a title. Which, I suppose, means that, technically, it's still not finished. I wrote 1,171 words yesterday. This story has been tedious to write, but I like the end result. It has required the constant consulting of texts, on subjects as diverse as pop culture, bog mummies, Arabian mythology, Irish and French geography, owls, early 20th-Century occultism, X-ray microtomography, the chemical composition of claw sheaths, weird fiction in the 1980s, rogue taxidermy, social constructionism, and Parisian ossuaries.

My new passport came yesterday, so no more worries about photo ID. This new passport is oddly high tech. I know it's being used to track me by satellite. It won't have to be renewed again until I'm fifty-six, and I imagine by then the world will hardly be recognizable.

---

Still reading Kristin Hersh's memoir, Rat Girl. There's a bit I want to quote. She's writing about writing music, but it applies (for me) equally to writing prose:

Music's making me do things, live stories so I can write them into songs. It pushes my brain and my days around. A parasite that kills its host, it doesn't give a shit about what happens to a little rat girl as long as it gets some song bodies out of it. It's a hungry ghost, desperate for physicality.

I'm not writing songs anymore; they're writing
me.

♋ close your eyes

i'm sliding really fast
my hands are full of snow

i don't understand
i don't understand puzzles

And every time a song is done, you can go now...you aren't needed anymore.
-- Kristin Hersh

I like to lie about writing being like this for me. I've often declared that writing fiction is, for me, nothing like this.

---

Still reading Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age. And I'm also still thinking about the problem posed by A is for Alien, how it didn't do as well as all my other subpress books (i.e., it hasn't sold out). And between the reading and the pondering, something has occurred to me, and maybe it should have occurred to me before. Stephenson's book is, undoubtedly, marvelous. The worldbuilding is first rate, from the tech to the sociology (even though I think he's slightly too optimistic). And he truly has written a post-cyberpunk pastiche of a Charles Dickens novel. But, I find the book oddly lacking in emotional content and depth. The characters aren't precisely flat. But there's very little insight into how they feel about the world about them or about each other or about themselves. At times, they seem to exist in order to show us the book's technology and history and so forth. They're almost no more than plot and setting delivery devices. I feel like they're all living out a tragedy they're never allowed to recognize as such.

I have often heard it said that science fiction is the literature of ideas. Fair enough. But I don't think it ought to be the literature of ideas to the exclusion of exploring pathos, delight, fear, and so forth. And it certainly didn't used to be. But I haven't read much sf after the cyberpunks of the '80s. So maybe things have changed. Or maybe I'm placing too much weight on a single data point (though that matter of "mundane sf" rears its head). Anyway, my sf is primarily concerned with human emotion, with the characters, and only secondarily concerned with science and technology. Often, the science it is most concerned with is psychology, and I'm just wondering if that's part of what I'm trying to make sense of here. I recognize I may be barking up the wrong tree; but I need to check all of them, all these trees.

---

Good rp in Insilico last night. And an interesting ooc conversation right before I logged of SL, a conversation with Blair (the person I'm mostly rping with these days) about living vicariously through our roleplay characters. We both acknowledge that's what we're doing. Me, I'm exploring various issues of identity by having an android pass through various incarnations, becoming progressively human. Anyway, it's mostly interesting because I've known a lot of people who are very resistant to the idea that rp involves this sort of therapeutic vicariousness. But I think it's where the true value of rp lies, in allowing us to explore secret parts of ourselves. Now, admittedly, it can also allow us to view the world through alien eyes, through minds not our own, and try to become people we aren't. But the best we can ever manage in those situations it to try, because all our characters will always only be splinters of us.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
We seem to be dodging the bullet of Hurricane Earl. A weather front has nudged it a wee bit eastward, and its been downgraded to a Category One. Mostly, we're looking at heavy rain and some wind, and breathing a sigh of relief. The surfers are happy, even though the Governor of Rhode Island ordered all the state beaches closed yesterday. I'd love to go down to Point Judith or Beavertail and see the waves, but it's unlikely we could get anywhere near the shore.

Meanwhile, Sirenia Digest #57 is still stuck in a holding pattern. Which has me very, very antsy and unable to move on to whatever needs doing next. Today, I may seek an alternate path to the PDF, as someone has volunteered. My thanks to everyone for being so patient.

Not much work yesterday, and what there was consisted, in the main, of email. I had a short interview for Lightspeed, about "Faces in Revolving Souls," which is being reprinted there in November. They'll also be running an author's spotlight on me that month, so I had questions regarding germline bioengineering and retroviruses to answer. Also, "The Belated Burial" is being adapted for podcast by PodCastle. I'll let you know when it's scheduled.

The rest of the day we mostly spent wandering about Providence making preparations against the storm— nonperishable food, jugs of water, candles, and so forth. Stuff we likely won't need now, not this weekend, but which we'll eventually put to good use. I called my mother, back in Alabama. Yesterday was the first anniversary of my stepfather's death, and so it was a hard day for her. We talked for twenty or thirty minutes, about everything from hurricanes to possums.

If anyone out there is feeling charitable, I'd really like to be able to update my OS from OS X 10.4.11 (Tiger) to OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard). If I'd ever updated to Leopard, it wouldn't be a big deal, just $29.00. But because I didn't, I appear to need this software bundle for the update. Just saying, if anyone's feeling generous with some disposable cash that isn't doing anything, I wouldn't say no. *

Last night, we watched the third and final film in the Red Riding trilogy, In the Year of Our Lord 1983. The third film, directed by Anand Tucker, is much more like the first, stylistically and structurally. It was beautiful, deeply unsettling, and sublime. I'd say it's a film about redemption, even at the cost of one's life and sanity (which is true, to a lesser degree, of the first film). Tucker's use of flashbacks, nonlinear narrative, and fairy-tale hints is marvelous. Mark Addy's performance as John Piggott is one of the best in all three films. So yes, I recommend these films very strongly. Right now, all three can be streamed from Netflix.

There was rp in Insilco after the movie. I think we got to bed about three, maybe later. Spooky and I are both a week or so behind on our sleep.

Update: Turns out, Apple lies (as do we all). The bundle isn't needed, and I can update directly from Tiger to Snow Leopard, so all I need is the 29.00 thingy. Baaaaad Apple marketing!

Update 2 (4:51 p.m.): One trip to the Apple Store and a 45-minute install later, and Arwen is now running OS X 10.6.3. And yes, I named my iMac Arwen.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
To quote the ever quotable Malcolm Reynolds, "So here is us, on the raggedy edge." That seems to have a different meaning to me every day. Today it means we're bracing for Hurricane Earl. Right now, we have a Tropical Storm Warning, just upgraded from a Tropical Storm Watch. Right now, the Weather Channel has us in the red zone, at a "high" threat level. Fortunately, we're on a hill outside the evacuation zone, so at least we probably don't have to worry about flooding. We'll be going out this evening to get supplies, just in case. Meanwhile, it's still hot as hell.

And neither of us slept much last night.

All day yesterday was spent on Sirenia Digest #57. But last night our PDFer began having technical difficulties, which is why, if you're a subscriber, you don't yet have the issue. We're trying to sort this out as quickly as we can. But with the storm on its way, it's not impossible that it may be Sunday evening before the issue goes out. Never in its four-year history has an issue of the digest been so late (which is sort of amazing, really), and I hope everyone will bear with us. We'll get it to you as soon as is feasible, promise.

I'm reading Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age: A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, and liking it so far. It's more than a little on the techno-fetish end of SF, but I'm fascinated by his future Victorians and the idea of the primer. I'm also doing something I pretty much never do. I'm reading one of my own published books, The Ammonite Violin & Others. I'm reading the stories out of order, just as they catch my eye. Right now I'm reading through "In the Dreamtime of Lady Resurrection." I think these stories have held up very well, and I usually can't stand reading my own stuff in print.

Also, some good rp in Insilico last night.

And now, I must go sweat some more. And answer email. While I sweat.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
The world is made of suck. Isn't that what kids these days would say, if their world was, indeed, made of suck, as opposed to being covered in teh awesome sauce? Is "awesome sauce" one word or two?

No sleep until four this morning, and then the dreams were a carnival ride. What, in the UK, was once called a ghost train. Maybe it still is. I don't know. I may have slept seven hours, but probably less. But at least I did it without drugs. Sonata, it turns out, is no less fraught with unpleasant side effects than is Ambien. These are drugs with sharp edges, wrapped in thin velvet.

It's a sharp fucking world.

I didn't leave the House yesterday, so its been six days now. I spent the entire damn day trying to find the end of "Fairy Tale of the Maritime," trying to find it without breaking the story. Spooky read the whole thing aloud to me, and I simply could not hear it. The rhythm was escaping me. I heard the words, but not the cadence. The ending seemed inscrutable and beyond my reach. I had Spooky call Sonya ([livejournal.com profile] sovay), and ask if she'd read it. She said yes, so I emailed it to her. She didn't hate it, which was a relief (Spooky had already not hated it, but artists can never trust their lovers on such matters, never, ever).

I wrote and erased nine hundred words. I wrote and kept another five hundred and fifty-eight words, and that's what became the ending of "Fairy Tale of the Maritime." It's sort of like whimsy on a bad dose of Lovecraft. Or Lewis Carroll on a good dose of Ketamine. Or it's nothing like either of those things. Anyway, now all I have to do is assemble Sirenia Digest #57, which I will be doing tomorrow, because Spooky refuses to allow me to go another day without leaving the House. My apologies ahead of time to subscribers, but the issue won't be out until September 1st or 2nd.

I presently exist in a state of abject terror, so far as the month of September '10 is concerned.

Last night we watched the first film in the BBC4 Red Riding trilogy (based on David Peace's quartet of novels of the same name). The first film, shot in 16mm and directed by Julian Jarrold, is In the Year of Our Lord 1974. And it was fucking brilliant. It achieved a level of sheer weird creepiness that I tend to think only David Lynch is capable of achieving. I can see myself becoming as obsessed with these films as I am with House of Leaves or Lost Highway or 1. Outside. And, of course we still have two films to go: In the Year of Our Lord 1980 (directed by James Marsh) and In the Year of Our Lord 1983 (directed by Anand Tucker).

I think I'm about to begin reading Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer.

I should go. The mothmen say so, that's why.

Oh, wait. There's a comment following from my post on A is for Alien and my SF work that I found especially insightful, and that I want to post. [livejournal.com profile] corucia wrote:

I think that you have similar issues with the reception of your SF as Peter Watts, of 'Blindsight' and 'Starfish' fame (http://www.rifters.com/crawl/). His work is even more dystopic and hard SF, and he's had trouble with recognition and sales, even though he often gets very favorable reviews (he's currently up for a Hugo for his novelette 'The Island'). I suspect that both of you are butting up against one of the fundamental differences between SF and fantasy - at some deep level, readers can dismiss fantasy as true fiction, no matter how disturbing it may be, but at that same level the reader can't as easily dismiss SF, because it is supposed to be grounded in reality. Thus, the bleaker SF can have a fundamental impact that fantasy cannot, leading to an unconscious rejection of the SF. I'll further argue that the better the science grounding of the SF, the more likely it is to be avoided if the conclusions resulting from it are too disturbing. As most readers don't have a strong science background, it's harder for them to identify flaws that might allow them to dismiss something that appears to be rationally-based, whereas fantasy always has the underlying unreality that permits dismissal.

Okay, mothmen. I'm finished now.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Despite the pills, I somehow managed not to sleep enough last night, and this morning I feel like ass. On top of that, it's hot again, and there's plastering being done in the House, so there is noise, which is like the cherry on the hot-fudge sundae of this morning's fresh hell.

That said...

Yesterday, I wrote a very respectable 1,785 words on the new story, the one based on Vince's illustration, and also found a title for it, "Fairy Tale of the Maritime." I did not, however, find THE END. I hope that will happen today (if the noise relents).

There's a very insightful review of The Red Tree by Audrey Homan at Strange Horizons. I found one very minor error, conflating Dr. Charles L. Harvey and Sarah's chagrined agent, Dorry. Other than that, this is what I mean when I talk about genuine reviews vs. "reviews."

---

So, back to the subject of my science fiction, which I raised a few days ago. Specifically, why my science fiction doesn't seem to be as popular as my dark fantasy, even among my more dedicated readers. The subject came up when Sonya was visiting a while back, when I pointed out that only one of my Subterranean Press books has ever failed to sell out quickly, and that the one book is A is for Alien. True, the limited sold out fairly quickly, but the trade edition is still available from the publisher, more than a year and a half after publication, a situation unprecedented with my subpress editions. By comparison, The Ammonite Violin & Others was released less than two months ago and has already sold out. So, I began asking myself, what gives? And I really don't have an answer.

Assuming that my sf is as well written as my fantasy (which I do assume), the only tentative explanation I have been able to arrive at is that my sf is, admittedly, out of step with contemporary sf. And, both thematically and stylistically, it's something of a peculiar fusion. I don't write "mundane science fiction." Even though I don't really have a problem with that school's basic precepts, I find most of the stories produced by its adherents to be dull as dishwater. I don't write about the Singularity, both because I find the idea highly untenable and because I have no particular interest in the subject. Also, I'm not even remotely interested in the idea of sf as a "progressive" or predictive medium. My sf is somewhat retro. It's not "in step" with the current vogue (which will change in a few weeks).

What I do write is, I think, essentially a latter-day "New Wave" sf, heavily influenced by my love of cyberpunk and, to a lesser degree, the immediate precursors of New Wave sf (Bradbury and Fritz Leiber, for instance). The stories are usually about the characters, more than they are about the science and technology. They are dystopian. They are grim, because I cannot imagine a future that isn't grim, given the data at hand. The science in my sf isn't rock solid, but it's pretty hard, better than average, I think. There is a distinctly cosmicist flavor to my sf, due to the influence of Lovecraft and Ligotti (and a host of philosphers). And I find the human mind pretty much as alien as anything we're likely to ever find. In the end, if it has anything so direct and simple as a message, my sf is saying that man is not special, and the universe is uncaring, and technology will not save us. We are our own worst enemy. And the future will look a lot like the present, only with more clutter, more people, and a world grown more inhospitable to humanity because of humanity's unrelenting and shortsighted exploitation of it. My sf looks inward, even when it's looking outward. In short, it's a bummer.

And this might account for some of the lack of attention that A is for Alien received (very few reviews, relative to most of my books, for example), but I find it hard to believe it accounts for the fact that the collection still hasn't sold out at the publisher. So, really, I don't know what's going on here. But it troubles me, and frustrates me, because I intend to continue writing sf, and expect to do another sf collection someday, and I'd like to think it will be better recieved than A is for Alien. Publishers continue to encourage me to write sf. My sf story "Galápagos" was recently honored by the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. I have three sf stories commission for the next year. So it will keep coming. But it baffles me, this thing with A is for Alien. And I just thought I'd talk about it here. Hopefully, I have not been incoherent.

---

Not much else to say about yesterday. Spooky made a peach cobbler. We watched the new episode of Project Runway. I did some nice rp in Insilico (thanks, Blair). I got to bed at a decent hour, and still didn't get enough sleep.

And now I have a story to finish.
greygirlbeast: (white)
Some bad news, which I'm going to get out of the way up front. For health reasons, I will not be attending Arcana 40 in Minneapolis this October. I saw my doctor yesterday, and she's taken me off Prazosin entirely, as we're still trying to get the hypotension under control. She advised me against making two long-distance trips in October. I will still be attending H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival and Cthulhucon in Portland, OR (October 1-3) as Guest of Honor, and the reason I chose the one over the other probably bears some explanation. Andrew Migliore of the HPLFF first asked in 2007 if I would appear as Guest of Honor, and has asked every year since. This is the first year I've been in a position to accept the offer. Additionally, though I was invited to Aracana 40 in early November '09, I heard nothing else from the con until about a week ago, and I'd begun to assume that something had gone awry and Arcana wasn't happening this year. But it's all been dealt with, and my contact at Arcana has been very understanding, and there are no hard feelings. We're talking about me appearing at Arcana at some future date. So, my apologies to readers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

No writing yesterday. After almost not sleeping the night before, I was doing good to take a bath, get dressed, and make my doctor's appointment on time. Afterwards, I answered a large quantity of email. And Geoffrey ([livejournal.com profile] readingthedark) showed up about 5:30 p.m. It was a pleasant evening of conversation. The first few hours were spent discussing The Drowning Girl, and then we talked about Second Life and Insilico, and then we talked about why my science fiction isn't nearly as popular as my dark-fantasy work. There were many other subjects touched upon. He headed back to Framingham about 2 a.m., and I actually managed a good night's sleep.

Today, I have to begin the story based on Vince's latest illustration, for Sirenia Digest #57. You can see the illustration in my entry "Daka, Bodo, Herto, us" from August 20th.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions, if you've not already. You might also take a look at Spooky's Etsy shop, Dreaming Squid Dollworks & Sundries, where you will find art, dolls, and many fabulous hand-crafted items. We're a little more strapped for cash than usual just now, as the bills have piled up and I'm waiting on overdue checks. Thanks.

And now, I must do the mothmen's bidding.
greygirlbeast: (Neytiri)
I go to bed angry, and I wake up angry. Last night, I was near tears when I got to sleep about four ayem. Which leads, inevitably, to certain dreams. I go to bed angry about BP and whaling and a thousand other human crimes against the world. I wake up with the same anger. Angers that can never be resolved.

I dream of towering waves, crashing down on cities. I dream of fire. I dream of a world cleansed of the filth of mankind by fire and water. I dream of a world that, in time, is allowed to begin over again.

---

No actual writing yesterday, but a metric shit-ton of email. I spoke with Vince about #55. I spoke with editors. All this speaking is via email, of course. I rarely employ my physical voice when speaking to anyone Outside. I looked through my preliminary schedule for Readercon 21 (I'll post it here as soon as I have the final schedule). When I'd made it through all the email, Spooky read "Tidal Forces" aloud to me. She'd not read the ending. I was relieved to find that the story works. The heat in the House was not nearly so bad yesterday, and is better still today.

My thanks to Ron St. Pierre, for letting me know that my novels are once again available in Japan for the Kindle. Which is good in terms of sales, but I still loathe the Kindle and, on some level, am utterly indifferent to the whole matter of ebooks. I'd much prefer people to read my novels as books.

---

Last night, we watched Avatar (second viewing; first since the theater). I love this film so much. Truly. My complaints remain few and far between. Sure, it's a pretty obvious reworking of Frank Herbert's Dune. If you're gonna steal, steal from the best. This time through, I couldn't help but think about how much better Will Smith would have been than Sam Worthington in the role of Jake Sully (and this might have silenced a few of the "race fail" naysayers). My only other significant quibble is a biological one.

There seems to be an evolutionary disconnect between the Na'vi and the rest of Pandora's wildlife (which is especially annoying, since the Na'vi are so much a part of their world). We see so many wonderfully realized species, thanators and dire horses and viperwolfs and hexapedes, and they form a convincing extraterrestrial ecosystem. All these animals are, in effect, hexapods. Now, here on earth, all land vertebrates are tetrapods. What this really means is that they all share a common ancestor (something like Tiktaalik roseae), and one of the major features of this common ancestor is that it had four limbs. That's why humans have four limbs, and why most terrestrial vertebrates have four limbs (biologists call these shared "primitive" characters symplesiomorphies). There are exceptions, where one set of limbs has been lost (whales, manatees, some squamates, etc.), or where a pair of limbs has been highly modified (as with birds and bats, whose arms function as wings), or where all limbs have been lost (snakes, for example). Now, assuming that natural selection and genetic mutation (these two things equal evolution) works the same way on other planets, I look at Pandora and I see a world where "vertebrates" have evolved not from a four-limbed tetrapod ancestor, but from a six-limbed hexapod ancestor. So...thanators and whatnot have six limbs. This is all well and good. Might have happened here on Earth. By chance, it didn't.

But...the Na'vi have only two sets of limbs, not the three they ought to have. In the film, we see one other "primate" species (this is, of course, only a species analogous to a terran primate, not an actual primate, as it shares no common ancestor with earthly primates). It's the six-limbed "lemurs" that Grace points out to Jake. Maybe the Na'vi are meant to have evolved from an ancestor like these "lemurs." Maybe not. We're never told. But...somewhere along they way, the Na'vi inexplicably lost a pair of limbs. This isn't impossible (see the examples of lost limbs above), but given the ecology of the Na'vi, it's very unlikely. An extra set of arms would come in very handy for an arboreal species, and would not have been selected against. Also, most Pandora species seem to posses "nostrils" in their throat, instead of at the front of their skull. But not the Na'vi.

My guess: Cameron knew that six-limbed, throat-breathing Na'vi would be too inhuman for humans to identify with, and so they have four limbs and breath through nostrils. Also, animating an extra set of limbs on all those characters would have made the production of the film more expensive and time consuming. So, Na'vi have four limbs, even though it makes no sense from a biological perspective.

Now, this hardly detracts from the film. It's only gonna bug zoology geeks like me...and it only bugs me a little. How many people even noticed that most Pandoran animals breathe through three sets of nostrils in their throats? It's very easy to become unreasonably pedantic about "getting the science right." My favorite example, someone who complained about a tiny detail in Danny Boyle's superb Sunshine (2007). I'll quote this bit from IMDb:

In the scene where four crewmen are forced to go into outer space, with no protection, Corazon states that the temperature outside is -273 degrees Celsius. This is not exactly true, because though outer space is near absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius) it is in fact about 3 degrees above absolute zero. She should have said -270 degrees Celsius, or 3 degrees Kelvin.

This is correct, of course. But who the hell cares? Not me, and I actually care about science. We're quibbling about three degrees, three degrees that would not have changed the story. My rule of thumb, get it right when getting it right doesn't interfere with telling a good story. The story comes first. Hence I put zeppelins on Mars in "Bradbury Weather," even though there was absolutely no way I could make the aerodynamics work (I tried for days, and even enlisted the aid of physicists). Zeppelins on Mars "look" damn cool, so I used them.

Anyway...didn't mean to go on for so long. But the mothmen and the platypus do love a good rant.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
A rather spectacular thunderstorm this morning. Now it's cloudy, and cooler than it's been lately.

As for my mood, it has improved. I suspect I just needed a day away from the story. I'd been hammering at it for eight days straight. Hopefully, when I go back to it today, things will make more sense. I can only hope that eight days from now, it's finished.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions, if you've not already. Thanks.

So, yes, yesterday we saw Vincenzo Natali's Splice. I'd hoped that it would be an important science-fiction film, something on a par with, say, last year's District 9 or Moon. Certainly, it had that potential, but it's a potential that's never quite realized. Somewhere near the middle, the film is almost brilliant, but the ending devolves into monster-movie antics, which are fine, if all you are hoping for is a scary monster movie. But this is a film that is, at least ostensibly, about the responsibilities of science and scientists, about the blurring the line between research and commerce, about the ethics and perils of creating genetically engineered hybrids, chimeras, and parahumans, and about making contact with a genuinely alien intelligence (even if the "alien" was created on Earth). You stack these issues into a film, and I expect it to be a little bit smarter. Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody do the best they can with the script. Delphine Chanéac is amazing as Dren. The creature effects are superb. Dren is undoubtedly one of the most amazing creatures ever brought to the screen. And the film is, despite its flaws, often very effective. For the most part, it's an interesting retelling of Frankenstein, and one that understands that Victor's greatest sin was not "playing god," but failing to be a good parent. And still, that ending blows the show, and I'm left wondering at the film Splice might have been if it had taken a few more chances. I don't expect it to last long in the theaters. It's too weird to appeal to most, but not quite weird enough to be brilliant. A disappointment, but still a disappointment well worth seeing.

I keep meaning to write about the ongoing horror in the Gulf of Mexico. I feel like I should be using the blog to write about nothing else. But every time I try, I back away. This thing is too big, and I know if I ever do start talking about it, I'm going to piss off pretty much everyone, because none of us is truly innocent of this crime, and I fear that's something no one wants to hear.
greygirlbeast: (Bjorkdroid)
Yesterday, I wrote 848 words on "Houndwife" and found THE END. Well, as much as this particular story can have an ending. Endings are as arbitrary as beginnings, and often as much a literary artifice as are titles and plots. But, yes, it's done, and I am pleased with it. Spooky read the whole story (6,769 words) back to me yesterday evening, and I think it works quite nicely. It will be appearing in Sirenia Digest #52, along with the shorter piece that I will start writing today. First, I have to send "Houndwife" to Vince Locke to be illustrated. No rest for the wordy.

If you've not already ordered your copy of The Ammonite Violin & Others, even after that fine review from Library Journal, well...what are you waiting for? (That is, by the way, a question that is not actually meant to be answered. Rhetorical, as they say.)

An unexpectedly good mail day yesterday. My thanks to Kenji Schwartz of Seattle, for sending me a copy of The Sauropods: Evolution and Paleobiology, and to William and Monica for sending me a copy of the new Faith and the Muse CD, : ankoku butoh: . They'll be playing Boston on April 24th.

Just when I was getting genuinely bored with Insilico, and thinking it was time to step away from Second Life again, some extremely satisfying rp reared its head last night, forcing me to stay. Victoria (Xiang 1.5) and her lost "sister" Nanyah (Xiang 2.0a) have been united. Nanyah got a body, and Victoria (whose been making do with the shell of a recycled fifty-six-year-old pleasure droid) got an identical copy of the same body. Their AI's are now linked, and they're out and about...and creepy. My thanks to Blair and Geoffrey for the very fine rp last night.
greygirlbeast: (walter3)
The rain has gone, and left behind a blustery day. I dislike the gusting noise of the wind. For me, it is very near to the sound of insanity.

I am becoming reluctant to continue this journal. I'm not entirely sure why. It's become a valuable (valuable to me) means of keeping up with any number of things, and, also, I've come to rely upon it as a means of communicating news to readers. Partly, I suspect, my desire to end it may arise simply from the slow death that LiveJournal seems to be suffering. I've tried transitioning to Twitter and Facebook. But I've already given up on Twitter, and I strongly dislike Facebook. MySpace was never an option. I cannot understand why people have fled Blogger and LiveJournal for Twitter and Facebook. It's like giving up oranges for gummy bears. That is, there is nothing like a one-to-one correspondence. And Twitter and Facebook are unsuitable for my needs. So, I don't know what's going to happen. If I do eventually stop keeping this journal, I'll also stop posting to Facebook (I only post there now because the LJ is mirrored there). I suppose I will wait and see.

Spooky just called Sméagol "Mr. Muzzle." I do hope it's an appellation that doesn't stick.

---

Yesterday, we ventured out into the Deluges of March to see Miguel Sapochnik's Repo Men. It was not our first choice. We'd intended to see Floria Sigismondi's The Runaways, not realizing it isn't yet in general release. But I was sort of interested in Repo Men. It caused me a great deal of confusion a few weeks ago when I learned of the film. My first assumption, it was a big-budget, non-musical remake of Repo! The Genetic Opera. The premises are, essentially, identical. How could it be anything else? But, of course, I was wrong, as Repo Men is based on Eric Garcia's novel, The Repossession Mambo (2009, apparently based on a short story by Garcia that, he claims, has an origin that can be traced back to 1997). Apparently, the novel was being written while the screenplay for the film was being written by Garcia. This all gets very confusing, and questions of copyright infringement cannot help but arise. Repo! The Genetic Opera was first released on November 7, 2008, and the origins of the play that inspired the film date back to 1996.

Anyway, I tried to go into Repo Men with an open mind. And, well...it's sort of a mess. The first half of the film is a sprawling, unfocused disaster. The pacing's off. The story's a rehash of themes and images from Repo! The Genetic Opera, and the generally excellent cast feels wasted. There's a lot of annoying suburbia/family crap that feels like padding and/or a weak attempt to dishonestly cajole the audience into having sympathy for a character who is, of course, a legal serial killer. Indeed, I think the first half of the film could have been pared down by at least half an hour or so (the film has a 111 minute running time), and it would only have helped matters. However, the second half of the film— which is concerned with a repo man's (Remy, played by Jude Law) attempt to escape having his heart repossessed by his former employer —sort of redeems the first half. I actually enjoyed the second half. It caught my attention and held it. No, the second half of Repo Men is nowhere near as smart or cool or sexy as Repo! The Genetic Opera, but it made for a decent bit of futuristic action film, and the ending didn't take the easy way out. Still, I'd say wait for the DVD, and I'm glad we only paid matinée prices. But it's worth a look. The cast is strong, even if the script is wobbly and the direction uneven. I very much liked Alice Braga, and there are some nice visuals, and the soundtrack is very good. But I'm still waiting to find out exactly how (or if) Universal Pictures has avoided a lawsuit from Lion's Gate or Twisted Pictures (or any other party concerned with the creation of Repo! The Genetic Opera).

---

I didn't get much work done yesterday. I sat down to proofread a story that I've just sold reprint rights on, something I wrote in 2001. And I couldn't read more than the first couple of pages. I'm afraid I'm going to have to start refusing to permit reprints of anything I wrote before, say, 2003 or 2004. I've simply changed too much as an author, and I'm no longer fond of most of my earlier work (say 1992 to 2001). It's dispiriting to read a story I wrote nine years ago, and not be able to get through it. It's even more dispiriting to think that someone might encounter me for the first time through one of those earlier stories (or novels) and judge the writer I am now by them.

"Smile, folks. It only gets worse," said the Platypus to the clams.
greygirlbeast: (white2)
A sunny day in Providence, and the winds are calm, so it actually feels like 60F. The windows are open and we're airing out the house. Of the few things I acutally miss about the South, the climate is at the very top of the list. I never thought I would be so glad for a sunny day when the temperature is only 60F...but after the dreary, wet, freezing greyness of a Providence winter, this almost seems like summer.

I learned last night that my sf story "Galápagos" (from Eclipse 3, edited by Johnathan Strahan) is one of six works to make the honor list for the James Tiptree Award for 2010. The Tiptree press release says of the story, "...a mysterious space disaster, a terrifying alien reproductivity, a story reminiscent of the work of Octavia Butler. There can be no higher praise." And I say, indeed, and thank you. I'm flattered to be so honored. I am far more pleased, though, to see that one of the two winners of this year's Tiptree Award is Greer Gilman ([livejournal.com profile] nineweaving) for Cloud and Ashes. I don't care what anyone else might say, Cloud and Ashes is far and away the most brilliant work of fantasy from 2009, and it's deserving of much more recognition than its received. By the way, the Tiptree Award is presented to works of of science fiction or fantasy that expand or explore our understanding of gender. To quote the award's website:

The award is named for Alice B. Sheldon, who wrote under the pseudonym James Tiptree, Jr. By her impulsive choice of a masculine pen name, Sheldon helped break down the imaginary barrier between "women’s writing" and "men’s writing." Her fine stories were eagerly accepted by publishers and won many awards in the field. Many years later, after she had written some other work under the female pen name of Raccoona Sheldon, it was discovered that she was female. The discovery led to a great deal of discussion of what aspects of writing, if any, are essentially gendered. The name "Tiptree" was selected to illustrate the complex role of gender in writing and reading.

And that was yesterday's bright spot. Otherwise, the day was a slick black sheen of shit and broken glass, placed just so to punctuate the middle of the month. I'd considered cataloging all the day's foulness, at length and with lots of exposition, but, honestly, I find I just don't care anymore. The good news is that all lives come with an expiration date.

I do very much want to thank [livejournal.com profile] aliceoddcabinet, having learned that she is the clerk at the Providence Athenaeum who is responsible for getting that copy of The Red Tree onto the shelves. Which is the only other thing, besides the Tiptree nod, that I've really had to smile about in the last couple of weeks.

Well, sure, Shaharrazad made Level 79 last night, but seeking solace and/or any sense of achievement in WoW (or Second Life, et al.), I'm aware that's pretty fucking pathetic.
greygirlbeast: (Eli6)
Last night there was sleep, last night and this morning. I didn't find it until about four a.m., but then I proceeded to sleep eight hours, without Ambien (or anything else). I've not slept that much at a stretch in forever. So, I dub today the beginning of the New Restoration. I almost feel rested. Spooky and I fell asleep talking about how marvelous is Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, especially the Hatter and the March Hare, the Bandersnatch and the battle with the Jabberwocky.

Here in Providence, it's rainy and drear and chilly and windy. I do very much love New England, but it's hard...no, it's impossible...not to miss the spring that must presently be springing in Atlanta and Birmingham. Here, we likely have another month of winter ahead of us.

Yesterday was every sort of hell that one receives when one agrees to be a novelist. I sat here, trying to begin The Wolf Who Cried Girl. I sat, and I sat, and I sat. All day, I sat. I wrote three sentences, and likely none of them are any good. Today, I will either sit again, or I'll go to the library and sit there. I only have to find my way in, now that I've scaled the novel back. I know this is primarily a novel about a sculptor named India Phelps and her obsession with the art of Albert Perrault (whom you may remember from "The Road of Pins," "La Peau Verte," "Last Drink Bird Head," "Rappaccini's Dragon (Murder Ballad No. 5)," and probably a few other stories I'm not recalling just now). I know it is also about her lover, whose name is Eva Canning, who is a stage actress. I know it's set in Providence, and is sort of a werewolf story, though I suspect there are no actual werewolves in it. I know it's very much about sex, and art, and repressed and/or taboo desires. I ought to be able to make a beginning, knowing all of that.

Last night, we watched the new episode of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, and marveled at the sweaty man flesh and the cheesy dialogue (oh, and the severed penis). Later, I had a very good roleplay in Insilico. It was very good, and I thank Molly and Fifth for it. It was so good, in fact, I shall likely edit the long transcript and post it on my page at the Insilico Ning. But...that said, it left me (and by "me" I mean the typist, the player, not the character of Victoria [Xiang 1.5]) rattled and uneasy, angry with myself and feeling foolish. I am not accustomed to playing (or writing) characters who are naive, innocent, effectively adolescent, and so forth. Which is precisely what Victoria is, a self-aware AI slowly, painfully coming of age in a harsh, ugly world that wants no part of self-aware AI. And, both as the character and as the player, I have repeatedly done, well, dumb and childish things. I know this is because I immerse myself so deeply in a character that I can only do what she would do in a given situation. But the effects of those actions can be devastating to a character, as they were last night to Victoria. As for last night, she appears to have survived, and this hasn't spiraled into another catastrophe— of the sort that got Xiang 1.0 killed, and Xiang 2.0b boxed, and Victoria tossed out on the street —but she has, of course, been changed on some level forever and for good (which is not necessarily to say for the better).

Have you pre-ordered your copy of The Ammonite Violin & Others, with cover art by Richard A. Kirk and an introduction by Jeff VanderMeer? If not, you should correct this oversight immediately.

And now I should wrap this up, and see what sort of today today will be.

A bruised full moon play fights with the stars.
This place is our prison, its cells are the bars.
So, take me to town. I want to dance with the city.
Show me something ugly, and show me something pretty.
(Editors, "The Boxer")
greygirlbeast: (The Hatter)
1. The insomnia continues. Looking back at entries for the last six years, I see just how much a part of my life insomnia has been recently. But this is the worst spate of it I've had to deal with since December 2007, I think. This is the first time since then that it's seemed bad enough to consider seeing a doctor about. I won't, because I can no longer abide physicians, but the urge is there. I did manage more than six hours last night, so I should be relieved, I suppose.

2. We are ten days into March, and I've written nothing (excepting blog entries). This is, of course, an unacceptable situation, but the insomnia has made writing almost impossible. I can say that I've figured out how The Wolf Who Cried Girl can be pared down to a much simpler, more eloquent novel than the plot-heavy thing that I devised a couple of months ago. Something much more like The Red Tree, in it's scope. Simplicity will be my deliverance. Or at least I can hope.

3. Monday night, Geoffrey ([livejournal.com profile] readingthedark) came down from Framingham, and we talked, and talked, and talked, until it was almost 5:30 a.m. — Thomas Ligotti's forthcoming The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, my novels and publishing in general, our loathing for the grating noises made by the Internet Hounds of Privilege and Entitlement and Political Correctness (IHPEC), insanity and psychiatry, pizza, Joss Whedon, Sunshine and other sf films of the last ten years, and so forth. Spooky joined us at some point and we watched an episode of Buffy, "Once More, With Feeling," which I never grow tired of seeing (or only hearing).

4. Yesterday, Spooky and I caught an afternoon matinée of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. Gods, what a brilliant, breathtaking film. Anyone who reads my novels and short fiction should be well aware of my love for Lewis Carroll. Indeed, The Annotated Alice, with Martin Gardner's extensive notes, is one of the books I keep nearest at hand while writing. And, truthfully, I went into this film without high expectations. I saw so many ways it could go wrong, and many of Burton's more recent films have left me feeling somewhat indifferent. However, all my fears were for nought. I adored the film, without reservation. Indeed, this is not only one of Burton's best films, it is probably the best screen adaptation of Lewis Carroll ever (with the possible exception of Jan Svankmajer's Neco z Alenky from 1988). It isn't often that a film ends and I immediately want to see it again, but that's how Burton's Alice in Wonderland affected me. The cast is flawless, top to bottom. The film's vision comes the closest anyone has come to capturing the frenetic, nonsensical impossibility of Wonderland (and I loved the whole "Underland" thing). I'm hearing all sorts of bizarre negative criticisms, though none with merit. This is a bold and triumphant film, one that finally addresses, without holding back, the darkness and complexity and maturity of Carroll's writing. I will add that I saw it in 2-D (having one eye and all), and was pleased that Burton avoided letting the 3-D thing ruin the movie, as is so often the case with that sadly popular gimmick. The film is a giddy, hallucinatory, unrelenting dance of shadow and light, hilarious and heartbreaking, brash and underscored, possessed of all the marvelously contradictory oppositions that characterize the source material. For the first time, I think, it felt as though Alice were truly an integral part of the landscape, and not just some baffled Victorian tourist passing through. And the climactic battle with the Jabberwocky...just wow. I cannot recommend this film strongly enough. Oh, and because I am not sleeping well, and am also not writing, and so am a bit cranky, if you're one of those who hated the film (especially if you've decided to hate it before seeing it, as so many have) please make any disparaging comments in your own LJ...not here. Thank you. I will not publicly debate the film's merits.

5. My love affair with Insilico (the SL cyberpunk sim) began waning about three weeks back, after that initial two or three weeks of ass-over-tits infatuation. I've not yet pulled out, but I suspect my days there are numbered. More than anything else, I suspect I'm losing interest because most of the players do not seem to grasp that you can't have a dystopian world without, well, dystopia. And dystopia is not a fashion statement, and it's not just window dressing, or the Cool New Flavor of the Week. If one is to approach dystopia, one does not proceed to populate it with optimism and uplifting stories that elevate the human condition and don't risk harshing someone's buzz. Dystopia is not a theme for a chat room. And if you've not read Ballard and Dick and Gibson and Orwell and...well, if you've not read these authors and taken them to heart, don't bother trying dystopian cyberpunk rp. Dystopia is, by definition, heavy and hopeless, dreary and unrelenting. Anyway, yeah. I don't think I'll ever find the SL sim that truly fits my disposition, unless, of course, I am its author, and we tried that once already, back in 2008. I simply do not have the resources to create such a sim. I have only this continuing desire for genuinely dark roleplay.

I'm in your garden, but I want a forest.
I'm in god's garden.
I'll make it a forest...
(The Editors)
greygirlbeast: (white)
1. At least seven and half hours sleep last night, which is a definite improvement, even if it was necessary to take a larger dose of Ambien (which I'm trying not to take) to achieve those results. I feel more rested than I have in days, which is not to say I feel precisely rested. Just better.

2. Yesterday, I managed to get through backed-up email. And I signed the signature sheets for the limited edition of The Ammonite Violin & Others. I had a hot bath. About 4:30 p.m., despite the foul weather (slate skies spitting snow and sleet and rain), we headed down to Narragansett for opening day at Iggy's, our favorite clam shack. Fish and chips, clam cakes, Manhattan-style clam chowder, and doughboys. Oh, and root beer. Afterwards, we drove on down to Point Judith and Harbor of Refuge. The wind was gusting to something like 40mph, I think, and the windchill was vicious. I only got out of the car for a few minutes. The wind and rain lashed a peridot sea, and the only sign of life we spotted was a lone eider duck bobbing in the surf well away from shore. I took a few photos, that I'll post tomorrow.

3. I am pleased to announce that "Hydrarguros" has sold to Subterranean Press, and will appear either in Subterranean magazine or a forthcoming anthology.

4. I've had a longstanding policy regarding the reading of unpublished, unsolicited fiction. That is, manuscripts sent to me by readers. It's a simple rule. I don't do it. I never have, which makes it a fairly longstanding policy, indeed. Lately, though, I've been getting a veritable flood of unsolicited manuscripts from people I do not know. These will not be read, and, for the most part, I won't respond. I also will not be held accountable if something in them should show up in a story or novel of mine in the future. But the potential for accusations of plagiarism is only one of the reasons I've made a rule of not reading unpublished mss. Anyway, I'm going to alter the longstanding rule, somewhat. From now on, I will read unsolicited mss.. However, all authors must first sign a waiver absolving me of any future allegations of copyright infringement that may appear to arise from my having seen unpublished works. I will charge (a very reasonable) $50/page, for which authors will receive copyedits and a generalized critique. My name and quotations from the critique may not be used to "blurb" or otherwise attempt to sell the manuscript. Payment must be made in advance of my reading the work, and is non-refundable— no exceptions. I will respond to authors within 90 days of receipt of their manuscripts. By these rules, and only under these rules, will I disregard my longstanding policy regarding the reading of unpublished, unsolicited fiction. Yes, I'm very serious. If you are actually interested in this service, you should contact me by email, greygirlbeast(at)gmail(dot)com, prior to submission. If you think all of this somehow does not apply to you, I would wager you are wrong.

5. Last night, Spooky and I saw Lars von Trier's Antichrist (2009). I found it brilliant, in all possible ways a film may be brilliant. Both Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg gave superb performances. I'll say a lot more about this film after I've had a while to think on it. Actually, I'm still in that place where I'm only allowing myself to have emotional reactions to it, and trying to save any intellectual reactions for later. But, yes, brilliant, beautiful, and certainly the most terrifying film I've seen in a long time.

6. Yesterday I promised to post some of my photos from the RISD Museum of Art, so here they are:

2 March 2010 )
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
Honestly not a whole lot to say, and I'd probably be better off not even making this entry. But I'm trying to maintain some semblance of order in what seems an increasingly disordered life.

We may have snow incoming.

The depression, the crazy, all that shit, it doesn't usually keep me from working. Usually, it's the fuel. But I've lost the last four days, and I'll lose today. I can only hope tomorrow will be better. Yesterday, I sat here for two or three hours, trying to throw a spark. I managed to find a title for "Untitled 35." I'm going to call it "The Eighth Veil" (thank you, Patti Smith). That was my grand moment of creativity yesterday, that title. Oh, and deciding that if I ever do another collection of science-fiction stories it will be called HOPE is a Four-Letter Word. After that, I lay in bed and Spooky read to me from Peter Straub and Stephen King's The Talisman, which I've been wanting to reread (and which Spooky has never read).

If I owe you an email, I'll try to get to it soon. But not today.

At night, there's been roleplay in Insilico, which has been an odd sort of comfort. For solace, I retreat into the shadows of fictions that are not entirely (or even mostly) my own. It's one thing to be the sole voice weaving a story. It's another thing to be only a single voice in a multitude, and to watch the "novel" write itself around you. Xiang 1.5 is being kept safe by her owner, Omika, who's determined not to lose another Xiang. Xiang 2.0a builds it's lunatic universe inside a briefcase. And Molly Longshadow has released the Nareth clone into the city, in an attempt to track down a particularly nasty serial killer. But, in this case, the cure may be worse than the disease. There was an especially wonderful rp last night between Molly and Nareth, just before the clone was discharged from the Gemini Corporation's medical facility, that was so good I might try to get the transcript up. There are three screencaps behind the cut. Today...Spooky's making me risk Outside, as I've not gone out since Thursday.

Insilico Personae )
greygirlbeast: (Bjorkdroid)
1. Kathryn and I were stunned and deeply saddened at the news of Alexander McQueen's death, at age 40. Far too fucking young. McQueen was an especially important influence for Kathryn, who told me, yesterday, that it was his work that first showed her that fashion could be art. But this is all we get from any artist, as much as they have to give, however little or however much.

2. Today is Darwin Day, of course. Viva la Evolución! I offer this quote from Carl Sagan:

The secrets of evolution are death and time — the deaths of enormous numbers of lifeforms that were imperfectly adapted to the envirnoment; and time for a long succession of small mutations that were by accident adaptive, time for the slow accumulation of patterns of favorable mutations. Part of the resistance to Darwin and Wallace derives from our difficulty in imagining the passage of the millennia, much less the aeons. What does seventy million years mean to beings who live only one-millionth as long? We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it forever.

3. Our "blizzard" of two nights ago was a bit of a bust. South County got quite a bit of snow, but most of it missed Providence. There's a little still on the ground, but not much.

4. Yesterday, I received what may be the best fan letter I ever have received. My thanks to Jennifer Roland and Sean Foley of the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Anthropology. It begins, "We are drunk. You are awesome...We are currently snowed into our department office, and have discovered that we both love your writing...Belly's Low Red Moon is playing RIGHT NOW, and we have found a typewriter to write you a letter. Of all the ways there are to be snowed in, this is one of the most agreeable." And it goes on, wonderfully, and came with two topographic maps, one New London, Conn-N.Y. quadrangle, and another of the Jackson's Gap quadrangle (Alabama; did a lot of fieldwork in this area, way back when). Both maps have monsters drawn on the back of them. A "Brogmotherium" (looks rather like an arboreal crocodylomorph) on the latter map, and a "Chrixptherium" or "Cephal-bear" drawn on the former. Anyway, my thanks to Sean and Jen, who made a Very Bad Day not so very bad.

5. I've learned that a wonderful review of The Red Tree has appeared in the January '10 issue of the New York Review of Science Fiction, penned by Pete Rawlik. I shall quote a short bit, to give you the gist:

It should be obvious to regular readers of my reviews that I am not a fan of Sarah Crowe’s fiction. I found her novel The Ark of Poseidon pretentious and derivative of the worst parts of Faulkner and Chappell. I believe I called A Long Way to Morning “a tragic southern gothic disguised as an urban, angst-driven, slow-motion train wreck that should be relegated to the dustbins of memory”. Her short story collection Silent Riots was a juvenile exercise in gender-bending erotica that despite its immaturity, likely garnished the kind of toxic attention that she so obviously was in pursuit of. In my mind Sarah Crowe had been set on the shelf with Hastane, Torrance, Ashbless and others who have afflicted the public with their overly dramatic and self-indulgent prose.

So it came as some surprise when editor Sharon Halperin asked me to review
The Red Tree, Crowe’s posthumously published account of her last days at Wight Farm. In a strange twist of literary, legal and financial entanglements, reminiscent of the legal battles between Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane, this book is actually published and copyrighted under the name of famed horror writer Caitlin Kiernan. Apparently, Crowe owed Kiernan a significant debt, and in settling Crowe’s estate, the family ceded rights to publish The Red Tree to Kiernan, on the condition that Crowe’s name would not appear on the cover or in any advertising. The fact that only Kiernan’s name and not Crowe’s appears on the cover may serve to confuse some readers as to authorship, but it does not detract from the quality of the work at hand.

Brilliant!

6. Spooky and I have been digging Caprica (even if it does derive from the Syphilis Channel). I think it's off to a great start, and I especially appreciate the cinematography (rarely, does TV cinematography catch my eye, and rarer still am I pleased with it). It helps that we get Eric Stoltz, whom I've always enjoyed, and Paula Malcolmson, who I loved as Trixie in Deadwood. We will spend today doing the proofing to "Sanderlings" and "Untitled 35," which we meant to do on Wednesday. And yeah, this paragraph is a mess as paragraphs go, I agree.

7. The Insilico rp continues to go marvelously. The story rapidly unfolds all about me. Well, that little corner of the grander story, the little corner I inhabit. Presently, there are three Xiangs, though it did not go quite as I thought it would. The Gemini Corporation has Xiang 2.0b (after extensive reprogramming) working the streets as an Internal Affairs investigator. Xiang 2.0a, the first to be awakened after the EMP, now inhabits an elaborate, exponentially expanding universe of her own creation, contained within the briefcase of Gemini cognate Molly Longshadow, who has convinced the X2.0a AI that it is a goddess. And where I thought X2.0c would be, there is, instead, X1.5, which Omika Pearl restored from Xiang's home terminal, using a back-up made several night's prior to the destruction of the original Xiang. X1.5 has been allowed to reenter the machine collective, unbeknownst to her owner, Omika (yeah, X1.5 is a liarbot). There's one screencap from last night, behind the cut (below). Oh, a few days ago, I replied to [livejournal.com profile] papersteven that I would not be posting a journal for any of these characters. However, I've decided last night's Molly/X2.0a transcript will be posted. It's just too surreal not to put up. Also, I'll be posting a complete biography of the Xiangs to the Insilico Ning, and I'll put links here tomorrow.

Silikhan and Xiang 1.5 inside the Construct )
greygirlbeast: (Barker)
1. Yesterday, I did 1,107 words on the piece I'm still calling "Untitled 35," but which I hope to find an actual title for (though, on the other hand, I'm rather fond of "untitling" pieces, as I've always felt titles were such strange literary artifices). It's going very well. I may finish it today. I think I've managed to construct a future syntax that's mostly believable and also comprehensible to the present-day reader without resorting to a glossary. It's involved everything from revived 1920s jargon to technobabble neologisms to pidgin French to riffs on Cockney rhyming slang.

2. I am doing my best not to think about how The Wolf Who Cried Girl is currently not getting written. Other things are getting written, instead, and it all has to be written; in the end, it'll all balance out.

3. The mystery of the provenance of the "Bowie" quote— "It's a dream-kill-dream world in here..." —has been solved. My thanks to [livejournal.com profile] musey_q for digging back though older blog entries, and the comments to blog entries, and discovering that the quote dates back to January 6th and January 7th, 2008. However, turns out, neither Bowie nor I are the author. The line was coined by [livejournal.com profile] jacobluest. This was during a bout of recurring dreams that I was trying to deal with— the orange man on the space zeppelin, that bout —and [livejournal.com profile] jacobluest commented (on January 6th):

I have to admit, I envy you your dreams. I'm one of the lucky ones I suppose, whose dreams are balanced between distractingly epic and restively mundane. As a side note, you showed up a few nights ago in a gunfight of programmable matter. No hard feelings right? It's a dream-kill-dream world in here...

So..mystery solved. Regardless, it's a beautiful line, and I regret I am so damn forgetful and didn't credit its author in the chapbook. I'll try to remedy that at some point in the future. What's weird, [missing text]

4. It seems we have some serious snow on the way. Spooky will be heading out soon to lay in supplies for a couple of days.

5. The wonderful rp in Insilico continues. Honestly, every time I think it can't get cooler, it gets cooler. A couple of days back, [livejournal.com profile] papersteven asked: "Does Xiang keep a journal like Professor Nishi did? I truly enjoyed reading that. Or would you grace us with a transcript, if one exists? Thank you either way." Professor Nishi was, of course, my character from my first SL rp, way back in '07. But to answer the question, so far, no. Two reasons for this: 1) I discovered that allowing a character to journal leads to metagaming (in this instance, people trying to rp with information that they've picked up from the journal and could not actually have access to in character), and 2) it's a lot of work, and takes up time that could be spent, you know, actually roleplaying. That said, I am actually considering a more limited sort of journal for Xiang. More like footnotes and bits of transcript. In the meantime, I'll leave you with another screencap, from last night:

Xiang and Fifth )
greygirlbeast: (Walter1)
1. I began yesterday's entry with the following line: It's a dream-kill-dream world in here..., which I attributed to David Bowie. Then someone asked which song, in particular, I was quoting, that they'd googled the quote and come up with nothing. I had it in my head the line was from "Get Real," which was originally meant to be part of Outside (1995), but didn't make the cut. Turns out, I was wrong. Indeed, I cannot presently trace the quote to anything Bowie has written— or anything anyone else has written, for that matter —and it's all gotten alarmingly odd. It's used as an epigraph in my chapbook B is for Beginnings (2009), where I thought I'd attributed the quote to Bowie. Only, I didn't. I did not attribute it to anyone. So, now I have no idea where it might have originated. Did I write it? Did I find it online somewhere, on a page that has since vanished? At this point, I can't say. But if anyone should happen to solve this mystery, I would be grateful.

2. Yesterday, I began a new vignette, presently called "Untitled 35." I wrote only 624 words, for a number of reasons. Mostly, I got started very late in the day, around 3 p.m. (CaST). However, another problem goes back to what I have often said about science fiction (yes, "Untitled 35" is sf), the problem of linguistic evolution. Very few authors have ever managed to deal with this convincingly when writing about future societies. In my eyes, even Anthony Burgess' excellent A Clockwork Orange (1962) falls short in this regard, and Burgess was a trained linguist. Anyway, point being, in this new piece, a first-person narration, I am struggling to create a somewhat plausible "future language" for a late 21st Century Boston.

Of course, it needs to remain comprehensible to readers in 2010, which hobbles me considerably. But I am always galled by futuristic sf (even the stuff I like) that doesn't at least make some effort to deal with linguistic drift and evolution. Stories set two or three hundred years in the future, in which everyone speaks perfectly understandable English, and so forth; I consider this a far worse offense than "getting the science wrong" (though, technically, this is a matter of anthropology). Ideally, films and stories set that far ahead would need subtitles and glossaries. Think of it this way: Imagine you're living in 1820, in England, and somehow happen across a copy of William Gibson's Burning Chrome. Just how much sense would it make to you?

3. The final cover design for The Ammonite Violin & Others is now up at Subterranean Press, though I've neglected to post it here. Another great piece by Richard Kirk:



4. And now, another day begins. I apparently have no say in this, which seems odd.
greygirlbeast: (Bjorkdroid)
I thought I should post some sort of update for Sirenia Digest #50:

1. the new science-fiction story, "Hydrarguros," is finished. This is a story that grew from a concept for a 2k-word vignette to a 9,186 full-tilt-boogie word tale. Yesterday, I wrote 1,242 words. I wasn't sure I'd found the ending. Then, last night, I read it to Spooky ([livejournal.com profile] humglum) and Geoffrey ([livejournal.com profile] readingthedark), and when i was done they both declared it finished. As in, there's really nowhere logical left for it to go. I often have these unexpected endings; it's always a jolt, but a pleasant jolt. I think this is my best sf story since the "A Season of Broken Dolls" and "In View of Nothing" duology, back in 2007. I hope Sirenia readers will agree.

2. I have a little editing to do, but I think you can expect #50 to go out Wednesday evening.

3. I know I'd said that the responses to the two questionaires, the "what you you do if you had me alone" and the "what sort of summonable monster" might I be, would appear in #50. Because the issue is running late, however, and because I still have to sort through some of those, I'm bumping that feature to #51 (February). In fact, I think I may add a third question, now that we have more time. Suggestions for a third question are welcome.

And that's about it. Geoffrey arrived about 8 p.m. (CaST) last night. Spooky turned in earlyish, but he and I were up until after five discussing...well, lots. Music (mostly VNV Nation, but also Radiohead, Placebo, NIN, Tori Amos, and Sisters of Mercy), magick, T. S. Kuhn, Baudelaire and the Decadents, the Modernists, our misspent youths, chess, Second Life, film, drugs...all the usual suspects. It was very good to unplug for a night and actually have some non-avatar-mediated people time. But I'm now jonsing for a dose of Insilico, and will likely be back inworld tonight. I miss Xiang.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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