greygirlbeast: (hatter2)
I know it's gonna be a goddamn weird day when the first thing I read after crawling (moaning) from bed is an article in The Economist. But, really South Carolina people. Newt Gingrich? Newt fucking Gingrich? That crackpot from the radio? A paragon of Southern white conservative sleaze who's clearly proud of being a paragon of Southern white conservative sleaze. Is anyone actually believing this shit about "open" marriages that he's spouting? But, back to the aforementioned article, I have to quote this bit:

As nuts as it may seem to those of us who belong to smaller, more vulnerable segments of the population, conservatives feel backed into a corner by the broader culture, and they detect in Mr Gingrich's pharisaic diatribes the hopeful will to fight, the promise of punching their way back to uncontested supremacy. That Mr Gingrich is a cartoon of a corrupt demagogue doesn't seem much to matter. Not only do conservatives believe Mr Gingrich feels their pain, they believe he seeks their revenge.

I'm imagining redneck Tea-Partygoers googling pharisaic, because that's a damn fine cup of irony (sorry, Mr. Lynch).

---

Yesterday was pretty much a bust. I wrote a measly 491 words on "The Diamond Friendly," and I think I'm about to shelve it a second time. I could try to explain what's gone wrong, but it would probably amount to a treatise. Having lately read so much dull, flavorless sf, I'd really like to write a bit of sf that, at the very least, can be called neither flavorless nor dull. Thing is, so much of that bad sf I've been reading is bad not because, I suspect, the writers in question are necessarily bad writers. I know that some of them aren't. It's because good sf – especially that of the futuristic variety – requires the author to have a firm grasp of sociology, psychology, linguistics, pop culture, economics, history, politics, and never mind the fields of science and technology relevant to the story at hand (besides sociology and psychology, I mean). You have to know, or at least be able to lay your hands on, all these disparate sources of data if you are to imbue your story with the least jot of authenticity, and then you have to start juggling them, and keep it all in the air while you write (I suppose this is done with the toes, since the hands are occupied), snatching the information you need as you need it. Mixing and matching, splicing and melding.

And here I am, in a crush of deadlines, setting out to write what would be an approximately ten thousand word hardcore "biopunk" (can we please, please, please stop punking?) story, spoken by its interauthor in a quasi-fictional argot I'm devising from a hundred sources for use in the mid 2050s...and...yesterday, I realized I had to step back. I started the story last month, then set it aside. I am going to write this dark, dark story about what [livejournal.com profile] corucia has deftly termed "somajakking." But I don't think I can write it now. Maybe I'm wrong, and by the end of the day I'll have figured it out, how to do this and everything else and not break my brain. I just don't know. A writer knows her life has grown peculiar when she begins to feel guilty about taking the time and energy to, you know, write a short story.

---

I don't like to talk about my infirmities in the blog. I just don't. I think, mostly, because I dislike the inevitable commiseration. "I know just how you feel." That sort of thing. I understand how many human beings find comfort in commiseration, but I don't. Anyway, I'm drifting. Point is, I've had this fucking migraine for eight days, as of today, which beats my old record by three days...and I've been trying to persevere. But I'm starting to slip. The formulation of coherent – never mind artistic – thoughts while this railroad spike is being removed and reinserted into random parts of my skull...I think the appropriate word is maddening. There must be a word for people who can remain articulate while in excruciating fucking pain, but, if so, it escapes me. Or I never learned it. Anyway, please do not commiserate. Mostly, I just wanted this down for the record, so I can remember, some day hence, that I once had an eight-day (or longer) headache.

---

I was going to write about playing too much SW:toR. I was going to write about reading The Dragon Seekers, and how it pains me to revisit the life of Gideon Mantell – the man who, among many other amazing achievements, named the second dinosaur* ever described, Iguanodon (1825) – but died poverty ridden in 1852, as do many paleontologists today. Mantell also discovered and described Hylaeosaurus (1833), the third dinosaur to be described. Instead, I wrote about all that other stuff. And now I have to go try to write that which I am paid to write.

When Evening Calls So Hard,
Aunt Beast

* The term dinosaur was coined in 1842 by Sir Richard Owen.
greygirlbeast: (Walter1)
Well, fuck. It's almost 2 p.m. (CaST), and somehow the day is slipping past on filthy little cat feet – fuck you, Carl Sandburg, you sentimental twatwaffle. Okay. Definitely didn't mean to begin this entry that way. But, as Longbaugh reminds me, "I think a plan is just a list of things that don't happen."

Yesterday, I wrote nothing. I sat here and thought about things I should have begun writing two days ago. Finding stories. I also made a flaccid attempt at cleaning my office. I decided that if snow is the dandruff of Ceiling Cat, dust is the dandruff of Basement Cat. I stacked up manuscript boxes that need to go to storage (various incarnations of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir and Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart, typescripts and galleys). I shelved a couple of books, and then I gave up.

I read Jack McDevitt's "The Cassandra Project" (2010) and Vylar Kaftan's "I'm Alive, I Love You, I'll See You in Reno" (also 2010). Both had kernels of magnificence trapped deep inside. Both were far too short, felt like outlines, and were almost entirely devoid of voice. I'm not sure if it's true that "Science fiction is the literature of ideas" (not sure, either, who first said that, and if you can figure it out for me, you get a banana sticker), but I don't think they meant that all you need is an idea*. At least, I hope that's not what he or she meant. I look back to Philip K. Dick, William Gibson's early work, Ray Bradbury, Jack Vance, Robert Silverburg, Ursula K. Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Michael Moorcock, Harlan Ellison...long, long list...and there is style. Voice. Good writing. Not this no-style style. From recent samplings, I fear that too much of contemporary science fiction has all the flavour of a stale communion wafer, and is just as flat. Sorry. Gratuitous (but true) Catholic reference. Where are our prose poets? Why doesn't the language used to convey the idea matter? It's not entirely true to say it's completely absent from contemporary sf. We have the brilliance of China Miéville, for example. But for fuck's sake, the short fiction I'm reading...communion wafers.**

I only just learned that Etta James has died.

I think my diet is killing me.

The snow is so bright out there, I had to shut the curtain in my office. It's getting better, though, as the wide carnivorous sky is being decently obscured by clouds. I didn't leave the house yesterday, but Spooky did, and she took photos, which you can see behind the cut (below), along with a photo from the day before of a typical Providence grey squirrel, all of which have become absurdly obese of late, in this oddly snow-free winter. Oh. By the way. Yesterday was National Squirrel Appreciation Day. I shit you not. Let’s hear it for Sciuridae.

Last night, we watched last week's episode of Fringe. A marvelously tangled web. And yeah, it's not great science fiction, but it doesn't claim to be, and, even so, it does have a flavour.

Fat Squirrel + 21 January 2012 )


I Taste the World,
Aunt Beast

* Possibly, it was Pamela Sargent. Or, possibly, she appropriated it from Isaac Asimov.
** Near as I can tell, this has always been the case with "hard" and "military" sf.
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 1)
On this day, sixty-five years ago, the dismembered body of Elizabeth Short was found in Leimert Park, Los Angeles.

Bitterly cold (but no snow) here in Providence. We had single digits last night, and the temperature Outside is currently 15˚F.

Here's a link to the full text of the starred (!) Publishers Weekly review of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. Also, my thanks to Elizabeth Bear ([livejournal.com profile] matociquala) for the very kind things she said about the novel a couple of days ago.

Yesterday, I realized that I'd done a very peculiar thing Friday while working on Albaster #4. I'd written pages five, six, and seven. But...this is going to sound so stupid...with seven I'd jumped ahead to a spot very near to the end of the book, only a few pages from the end. It was strange, yeah. I always write from "beginning" to "end," in a straight line, so it was a very odd thing for me to have done. Anyway, yesterday, I set that seventh page aside (I'll use it at the appropriate time), and wrote a new page seven, along with eight, nine, and ten (manuscript pages 14-19, 1,403 words). I stopped in the year 1864 – November, to be precise. I'll resume there today. Oh, it'll all make sense, trust me.

After the writing, I used the iPad to stream a rather dubious documentary about the Snowball Earth hypothesis. I don't mean to say that the hypothesis itself, though still somewhat controversial, is dubious. It's just that the Discovery Channel (I can't believe they haven't shortened the station's title to Disco) seems incapable of making coherent, accurate documentaries that don't drag everything down to the level of "Bat Boy" and the Weekly World News (By the way, you know you're old when you remember the days when the Weekly World News took itself seriously.). The documentary almost managed to reduce a respectable (and very likely) scientific model to nothing more than the latest Roland Emmerich blockbuster.

Later, we played SW:toR, forgoing RP in favor of leveling. We both reached Level 28. And then we watched Craig Gillespie's remake of Fright Night (2011). Now, given the fact that I'm an admirer of the original (1988) and the fact that I hate 3D, I will admit I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder going in. But I was quickly won over. Yeah, the 3D is gimmicky as fuck, and annoyingly intrusive at times (Oh! Look! Blood spurting at the film! Scream!). But the film is both a lot of fun and filled with genuine menace. Most of the casting is superb – Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell (I never would have believed it), Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and (drum roll) David Fucking Tennant. The show really belonged to Tenant and Farrell. I do wish a little more care had been taken casting female roles. Imogen Poots? That was supposed to be an in joke, right? And Toni Collette....well, we know she can act, but I guess the fact that she's comatose for the second half of this film meant she didn't have much incentive to try during the first half. I was disappointed that we didn't get some of the wonderful creature effects from the original – the werewolf and the amazingly creepy bat thing – but still, very good and highly recommended. Even with the annoying 3D shots trying to jump out into you lap. Oh, it also scored points for mentioning Farscape.

After the movie, I read Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Silence of the Asonu" (1998), a fine bit of SF anthropology (also collected in Lightspeed: Year One). And then I finally slept.
greygirlbeast: (white2)
Choice comments to recent entries. First, regarding the accelerating acceleration of life at the dawn of the Twenty First Century [livejournal.com profile] lady_tigerfish writes:

You just can't Tweet Big Thoughts; they take more than 140 characters. I resent any format that demands my thoughts be small.

– and also –

Making the time--for anything--seems to be a thing of the past. Nearly everyone I know describes themselves as lazy, but as far as I can tell, "laziness" seems to translate to nothing more than "not spending every waking hour doing something." There's an almost Puritanical bent to the way we seem to need to be busy every hour of ever day, to the way stillness is demonized as sloth. Like if we stop moving for two seconds, the devil himself will descend to make use of our idleness. We certainly treat each other that way whenever one of our own dares to step outside the regimen and, say, turns off the cell phone for awhile. Funny, since (as other commenters have pointed out) this pace actually makes us less productive in the long run.

And [livejournal.com profile] mrs_ralph writes, of writing and this blog:

I don't think that's what people are looking for when they follow a writer. I can't speak too much for other people but I think I was looking for the deep, dark secret of how to. Turns out there is no deep, dark secret or if there is one it is 'nose to the grindstone, shoulder to wheel and get on with it already!' or as so many writers say 'just write.' The magic isn't something you can beg, borrow, bottle or steal, it is what happens when a person with a unique mindset and a way with words sits down, writes a story and then lets the rest of the world read it.

Thank you both.

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,608 words on the piece that is still called "Blast the Human Flower," but which really needs a different title. I wrote 1,608 words, and found THE END sometime after sunset. It's the sort of story I think of as the biological equivalent of "nuts and bolts" SF, that manly technopron that puts me to sleep. A couple of years back, I was on a panel at Readercon that asked why Darwin has been less of an inspiration to science fiction than, say, Einstein. Or, put another way, why sf authors are usually more concerned with, say, astrophysics, engineering, and robotics than they are with zoology, botany, and geology. It was a good panel. Dune was offered up as an especially good example of science fiction in which biology is the cornerstone of the tale. The sort there needs to be many more of, stories at least as concerned with life and earth sciences as with technology. Oh, and there's the matter of anthropology/sociology/psychology, too – which also seem frequently ignored or frowned upon by the self-appointed gatekeepers of the genre. I could get into the whole Apollonian sf vs. Dionysian sf thing, so-called "hard science" vs. so-called "soft science," writers and readers who don't have the stomach for flesh and sex (sex being, after all, the driving force of evolution)...but I won't.

In the end, of course, it's all matter, viewed at different levels and in different states and configurations, perpetually recycled. So, there. Science fiction, like all literature, is the literature of matter. Distinctions dissolve, as well they ought.

---

Since late Friday afternoon, a migraine has been eating at me. I can't tell if the anger's still here, or if my awareness of it has been eclipsed by the headache. Sometimes, my mood swings and chains of angry days would portend a seizure. Now that the meds have those in check, for the most part, I begin to suspect the same anger and mood swings portend the headaches (there's a lot of interesting data drawing parallels between migraines and certain sorts of seizure disorders, and vice versa). Anyway, I think I like the anger better.

Today is an assembly day. I hope to have Sirenia Digest #73 out to subscribers before midnight. This month you get the new vignette I was just discussing, plus part one of "The Lost Language of Mollusca and Crustacea" (with a great Vince Locke illustration), and the second chapter of the original and eventually very reworked text of Silk.

Throbbing,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
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
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
This morning, Spooky made a fantastic ham omelette (LJ can only spell the word as omelet, which figures), which I ate with pepperoncini (which LJ can't spell at all) and buttered toast, using the leftovers from Friday morning. As I ate, the thought occurred to me, reflecting on all the asshole shoppers and drivers that seem to have slithered out of the cracks the last week or five, I thought, and asked aloud, "If they're this bad at Xmas, what must they be like the rest of the year?" Or maybe it's just that Xmas makes people extra thoughtless, selfish, and whatnot. Maybe it's Consumer Jesus rebound. Regardless, Spooky makes a damned good omelette.

Yesterday? Very, very little with which to regale you lot, kittens. I didn't drink. How's that? I read stories by Sarah Monette and Paul McAuley. The only thing I really wanted to do was board the train last night and ride as far north as Boston or as far south as Manhattan. Just to see the lights, and the long stretches of mostly darkness, and to feel the wheels beneath me. That's what we didn't do, as it was impractical. I'll never understand all this time spent dodging the impractical. If life is an inflated inner tube, then practicality and caution are twin nails waiting to puncture the rubber and release all the air. Practicality and caution are twin nails, and they conspire to thwart the wild heart.

Instead, we nested. We hid. We watched Badder Santa, ate junk food, had Mexican Coke, and played a lot of SW:toR (and no, we haven't forsaken Rift, but I am mostly steering clear until the "Fae Yule" shit has passed). My Sith has yellow eyes now, which I suppose is meant to signify her descent into the Dark Side. Her eyes were the palest blue, almost white. She's a terribly vain woman, who once was a slave in the mines of Korriban. Unmentionable things were done to her there, and those crimes against her mind and body left her shattered, and seeing her eyes turn yellow only drove Varla that much farther into the shadows. But, on the other hand, Darth Zash gave her a shiny new Fury-Class starship...so, all's well that ends well.

Also, yesterday – here on Earth – I listened to lots of old music, mostly Athens-period stuff. I stewed and hated at Xmas, like the Grinch atop Mount Crumpit. But the rage has subsided to indifference today. An odd indifference. Today, I am not so much bitter as I am baffled at the shallowness of it all. This day doesn't even feel like that wicked holiday. It just feels like any other cold Sunday in Providence, which is a consolation, so maybe that's my Fury-Class starship.

Wishing For Summer,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (white)
Yesterday, there was more than a bit of drama on Facebook. Because I reposted an article unconditionally supporting a second term for President Obama, and pointing out what a bunch of loons the GOP has become. I'm honestly not sure when I started my FB page, but it was years ago. I must still have been in Atlanta. In all that time, I've found the need to ban only seven people. Yesterday, I banned two of those: a Mr. Tim Lieder and a Mr. Alexander Loeb. Weasels, the both of them, and one went so far as to imply that my wishing people not to comment on certain items I'd posted to my FB page was comparable to an accused child molester defending himself. No, I'm not making that up. Anyway, as of last night, my FB page is "friends only," which means it cannot be seen by the public. You can find my name and stuff, and request that I "friend you" (I fucking shudder at that phrase). Likely, I will. But Spooky has become adamant that I start screening people on FB.

---

It was a quiet day yesterday. I went back to work on the painting that was once called Black Ships Ate the Sky, back in 2010, but is now called Idumea (Charles Wesley, 1793). There will be a second canvas titled Black Ships Ate the Sky. If I ever finish this one. I paint like I write poetry, which is to say very, very, very slowly, as I dither. I fret. I may post an "in progress" photo of Idumea tomorrow.

In general, the vacation is agreeing with me. Not as much sleep last night, but I feel okay.

Oh! And this is so cool. I realized, a few days back, that if one takes bow tie and runs it together as bowtie, then capitalizes the "B," creating Bowtie, and then removes the "t," what remains is Bowie. How bow tie is that?! Also bow tie, just before we went to sleep, Spooky and I discovered how cool Artimesia looks when spelled backwards: aisemitrA. How much it recalls asymmetry.

---

Have you not yet ordered a copy (or copies) of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir and/or Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart? You should. Pre-orders make publishers very happy. And, in the case of the latter book, it may well sell out before publication, especially the limited edition.

---

Last night, Kathryn and I went to the Cable Car for a 9:45 p.m. (8:45 EST) showing of Lars von Trier's Melancholia. Gods, this film is as close to perfection as films ever come. Yes, it's ostensibly a film about a rogue planet's collision with Earth, but it's truly (as von Trier has confirmed) a film about depression. There could be no better example of the difference between truth and fact than Melancholia. This film is beautiful, and magnificent, sublime, triumphant, and terrifying. von Trier's decision to reveal the ending of the film at the beginning (same reason I included the editor's prologue at the beginning of The Red Tree), and to metaphorically recount the narrative (again at the beginning) via a dream sequence, both were strokes of genius. Melancholia is, somehow, quite different from Terrence Malick's Tree of Life, even though they share very much in common. Such as being my picks for the two best films of 2010*. Nothing even comes close to either. I greatly admire von Trier's decision to avoid a realistic depiction of astrophysics. As I have said again and again, characters are the backbone of powerful science fiction (and of all powerful fiction), not science. This is a film of wonder and beauty, as much as it is a film of sorrow and fear, and...I'm going on and on. Just see it.

Vacating,
Aunt Beast

* I suspect Scorsese's Hugo probably deserves to be in my best three of 2011, but a) it was released in 3D, an idiotic move, and b) I've not been able to see it in 2D.
greygirlbeast: (Chiana 6)
The first day of my vakashun, is cold and cloudy...which figures. But good things are in store, so I am told. And rest. And travel Outside. And, most importantly, NOT WRITING.

A peculiar thing last night. Not coincidence. Or maybe not so much coincidence. But something. I haven't watched Farscape, to speak of, in years, and last night Spooky and I sort of decided to start at the beginning and work our way through all four seasons. Anyway, we'd just finished "Exodus from Genesis" (1:3), when I saw [livejournal.com profile] matociquala's entry about the death of T.J. Bass, author of the sf novel The Godwhale (1974), at the age of 79. It may be that not many of you've read The Godwhale...or even seen Farcscape. But the former concerns, among many other things, the creature of the title, the Rorqual Maru: (French, from Norwegian rørhval, from Old Norse reydharhvalr: reydhr, rorqual (from raudhr, red; see reudh- in Indo-European roots) + hvalr, whale), plus you will recall that it is Hakudo Maru, the Japanese Celestial God of War, who taught men to build ships. The Rorqual Maru is a bioengineered Blue Whale, and...well, in Farscape you have the biomechanoid ship Moya (also, in Japanese architecture, the word for the core of a building). I'm mucking this up, aren't I?

Point is, having just started watching Farcsape again, then reading of Bass' death, something clicked. I read Godwhale in high school, maybe three years after it was released (it's out of print), and doubt I've consciously thought about the book in a quarter of a century or more. But I had to pause and wonder how much Godwhale might have influenced the creators of Farscape (Jim Henson Productions/Hallmark Entertainment) when they conceived of the sentient ship Moya, who is, after all, a member of a species known as leviathans, from leviathan (late 14c., from L.L. leviathan, from Hebrew livyathan [לִוְיָתָ] "dragon, serpent, huge sea animal," of unknown origin, perhaps related to Tiberian liwyah "wreath," from base l-w-h- "to wind, turn, twist"), a word which in Modern Hebrew, and in general, has come to mean, simply, whale. Bomechanoid whales of the sea and of outer space. And it just seemed...curious, our going back to the series the day after Bass' death, which Elizabeth Bear didn't blog about until yesterday, a blog entry we didn't read until after watching Farscape. But my mind does that, same as it plays word games. It plays games – not with cause and effect (though it does that, too) – but with the frivolity of happenstance.

Oh, and Soulcrusher, he crushed the soul of Spooky's computer. Sort of. Turns out, the "People of WalMart" website is infected with a piece of especially pernicious computer malware, "Vista Home Security 2012." Which we spent much of yesterday trying to expunge from her machine. This morning, it seems we were, unexpectedly, successful. So, we don't have to give the guys at the Geek Squad $200. But – DO NOT GO TO THAT WEBSITE. The Soulcrusher will reach out and crush the soul of your computer. Yesterday's entry has been locked (my eyes only; I can never delete an entry – never have, never will).

Work-wise yesterday was sort of choatic, what with the spawn of Soulcrusher and all. We made it through the first 146 manuscript pages of corrections on Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart (by the way, some work has to be done while I'm on vakashun....like this. So, please pre-order a copy, to make it worth my while, the sacrifice of those precious hours of leisure). Also, I spoke with my editor at Dark Horse. Alabaster steams headlong towards an amazing launch.

And Spooky says I have to go now, and pretend I'm not working...
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
Ugh. Yeah, we're awake now, right? I've been chattering away like Robin fucking Williams for an hour, and I think Spooky's ready to murder me. But, then, she usually is. Ready to murder me.

Hey, let's get off on the right foot. Here's some depressing-ass shit: "Police Seek Escaped Exotic Animals in Ohio." And while we're at it, since when is it acceptable to only capitalize the first word of a headline and any proper nouns? Who decided that? It's fucking idiotic. I think I only noticed this about a month ago, but it seems to be a New Internet Rule. I'm sure some bunch of cocksuckers are responsible, like the authors of the The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual of Style, who have to keep making up "new rules" so people have to keep buying new copies. Linguistic evolution by way of capitalism, yes! Anyway, the proper way to write a headline...oh, never mind. World, meet hell in a hand basket, and you kids get off my lawn.

Yesterday, I worked. Can't say how or on what. I am told the beans will be spilled in only a few more weeks, you will all be happy, and I can stop keeping this particular SECRET.

Also, [livejournal.com profile] sovay reports having received her copy of Two Worlds and In Between, so folks who wisely pre-ordered (even the trade hb edition is almost sold out now, less than fifty copies remaining) should be getting it this week and next.

---

I was going to talk about Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.'s prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). Yes, I was. I said that yesterday. First off, the pros. This is a good movie, and remember, I may have seen the Carpenter film more times than any living being (easily a hundred times, start to finish). It's a terrifying, fun, awe-inspiring tribute to the Carpenter film and, for the most part, it gets it right, because the filmmakers had the proper respect for the original and convinced the studio/producers to permit them to make a prequel instead of a remake. Though we do not need to know what happened before Carpenter's film, or what happens afterwards (this is part of the film's genius), the prequel doesn't provide some sort of infodump that ruins the original. Oh, and no SPOILER WARNING; if you don't want to read this, then avert thine eyes. However, rather than fawn over the good points (which are many), I'll point out those things I found annoying or disappointing. You know, like any good internet "reviewer." Overall, Heijningen gets the continuity with the first film right, and his scientific gaffs are minor (no one has ever found a prehistoric carnivore preserved in tundra, though we're shown Mary Elizabeth Winstead's paleontologist, Dr. Kate Lloyd, examining what appears to be a frozen Homotherium near the beginning of the film). I loved the microscope view of the alien cells consuming human cells and converting them, and the understanding that the alien was single-celled virus capable of acting as a multicellular organism. Wait, I'm saying good things. What kind of internet reviewer am I?!

Anyway, the delightful isolation of the first film is broken when we cut to Lloyd's lab at Columbia University, whereas maintaining that sense of claustrophobic isolation was crucial to the film's success. Bad filmmakers. Also, this film isn't nearly as quiet or as slowly paced as the 1982 film, but if it were, 2011 audiences would probably walk out, having been trained for constant, unrelenting action. One thing I love about the Carpenter film is the pacing, which took a cue from Alien (1978). Also, while the special effects and creature design were very good, I still prefer the analog effects in the original. Give me latex and methylcellulose over pixels any damn day of the week. I liked how we were shown the alien's ability to absorb and replicate via ingestion, but also it's ability to infect and slowly convert a human. I loved that we are shown so much of the inside of the alien ship, but was annoyed that the original means of its discovery wasn't preserved. The prequel does a pretty good job of being set in 1982 (thank fuck it wasn't updated), but I missed seeing 1982 computer technology. That would have been charming in the right way. There are too many characters, and except for Lloyd, they have a tendency to bleed together (no pun intended), one into the next. A wonderful thing about the first film was its carefully delineated characters.

The ending is handled well. I very much like the sense that we're given the impression that Lloyd, despite having survived, knows it's best if she sits there in that snowcat and freezes to death. Ultimately, we're left with the ambiguities and fatalism of the original, the sense of impending apocalypse, and you better stay for the credits, because that's where Carpenter's and Heijningen's fuse seamlessly together (no pun intended), with footage from the 1982 version. Again, DO NOT LEAVE WHEN THE CREDIT ROLL BEGINS, or you'll miss where 1982 meets 2011. Tentative final conclusion: I'll give it 8 out of 10; definitely worth seeing in the theaters.

---

We finished Shirley Jackson's The Sundial last night. It's a wonderful novel, with multiple interpretations and a marvelously inconclusive ending. I learned so much from Jackson. Is this a statement on the Catholic Church (the Halloran House) and Protestantism (the inhabitants; remember that Jackson was an atheist)? On human idiocy in general? The hysteria of crowds? Jackson's strong dislike for insular New Englanders (which she repeats again and again in other works)? We have to draw our own conclusions, or draw none at all. And now, I will announce (though I may have already beat myself to it) that the next Aunt Beast Book Club book is Collin Meloy and Carson Ellis' Wildwood. Note that this is a beautiful hardback, and if you purchase it as an ebook, you're shooting yourself in the foot and will miss at least half the pleasure. Also, last night I read Peter Crowther's "Memories." And played some Rift. I miss the house guests. I need more of them.

Speaking of whom, here are some crappy, blurry shots I took on Friday night at Spooky's parents' farm in Saunderstown, before we stepped out into the torrential fucking downpour to get the first round of nude shots of Eva, when Imp finds her at the side of the road. We were ordering pizza (thank you Spooky and Geoffrey) and playing with Spider cat, the feline basketball:

14 October 2011, Part 2 )
greygirlbeast: (Eli1)
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
Comment!

Spooky just quoted the Agricultural Commissioner of the state of Florida to me. "This snail is one bad dude," she said. Well, she said, he said. These are our mornings.

Yesterday, I didn't work. My body isn't exhausted. I've actually been getting more sleep than I did for a long time (finally having discovered the effective anti-insomnia cocktail...for me), but I've been working so much. For a long time, I was truly too ill to take on more than...this gets sort of funny. Even when I was very ill, I was working a lot. I'm making a living as a freelance, and so there's no choice but to work. Health is not relevant, not really. Regardless, about a year and a half ago, I began getting better, and taking on more work, and conceiving new ideas, and, at this point, I go to sleep working out problems in my fiction and wake up doing the same thing. Okay, more the former than the latter. But it's catching up with me, and my mind and nerves are tired. All thus fucking work. So, I didn't work yesterday.

I suppose autumn is here. I haven't spent much time outside, but it must be here. I feel it. It isn't looking in. Why would it bother? But I feel its dry brown eyes upon me, if only because I'm in the way. Not that I believe the autumn is something that can literally have eyes. And speaking of the autumn, and Hallowe'en, Spooky is having a Hallowe'en Sale (!!!) in her Etsy shop, Dreaming Squid Dollworks and Sundries. 20% off on everything! And if you don't buy something, she'll get sad, and when she gets sad.... Well, trust me. You don't want her sad. So, please...buy something. The necklaces are truly amazing.

Actually, I hate that word. Sad*, I mean. It's a child's word. There at least twenty synonyms in the English language that are far more suitable to mature vocabularies. Of course, if you are a child, by all means, good word. Use it till the wheels fall off.*

I'm having a great deal of frustration as regards futurism at the moment. I don't mean the artistic movement that arose in Italy about 1910 (including Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Gino Severini, Giacomo Balla, Antonio Sant'Elia, Tullio Crali and Luigi Russolo, plus the Russians Natalia Goncharova, Velimir Khlebnikov, and Vladimir Mayakovsky). I mean futurism in the many senses that it is employed by those who wish to analyze trends and then forecast. But I don't mean those looking for better futures (there are none), and I don't mean those who believe the future can be accurately forecast (that's almost impossible; not quite, but almost). What I have in mind is far simpler: communicating to people that the future will be alien, just as the past is alien. That is, alien to us, from the Here and Now. And convincing people they do not currently live in some incarnation or portion of the future (excepting that this came after that; well, that's bloody obvious, and now you're even older). I mean, the future will be different, and the farther you move into the future, the stranger (less like now) it becomes. That everything evolves, and not just technology, but culture. SF writers have an especial problem with evolving culture, economics, biology, medicine, politics, and especially with evolving language. But...I'm not actually concerned here with writers. Even the worst SF writer is ahead of the curve in this regard. I'm talking about...oh, never mind. You can lead a horse to a fine Bordeaux, but it's just gonna want the oogy, muddy, stinking water in the drinking through, where all the rodents poop. Some will know of what I speak; others will not.

Did I mention that Spooky is having a Hallowe'en Sale (!!!) in her Etsy shop, Dreaming Squid Dollworks and Sundries. I did? Just checking.

Last night, we happened to see a rather good movie, Christian Alvart's Case 39 (2009), with Renée Zellweger, Ian McShane, and Jodelle Ferland. I went in not expecting much, and was pleasantly surprised. You could call this a "horror movie," and maybe it is. But I find it more interesting to think of as a film about terror and horror (and those aren't the same emotions, you know, regardless of how linked they may be). Also, while this film clearly comes from the demonic child/possession tradition, it immediately struck me as a story about a fairie changeling, and (though the word demon is tossed about a couple of times, and we see a crucifix and a Bible, the Xtianity thing is almost absent). So, it may be Alvart had something far less concrete than a "demon" (sensu Xtianity) in mind. It may only be that he understands the American mind, needing something familiar, would fix on "demon." Anyway, Case 39 is not a particularly original movie, so if you're that sort (and I hope you're not), don't waste your time with it. It plays old tropes, but it plays them well. It's not brilliant, but it is good, and it's stuck with me. There are elements it borrows from better films, but it borrows them well. And, even in an ending that might seem hopeful, step back, and you'll see the overwhelming bleakness and horror still in play. It's streaming free on Netflix.

Later, I read a truly awful story in the Halloween anthology, Lyllian Huntley Harris' "The Vow on Halloween." Never heard of Lyllian Huntley Harris? Well, neither had I, and with good reason. The anthology's editor (who freely admits this tale is "pure pulp and quaintly romantic") notes that the story was, in a 1985 anthology, mistakenly attributed to the Irish novelist Dorothy Macardle. Turns out, though, it was published in Weird Tales in 1924, by a Georgian woman (that is, Georgia, USA), and her name was Lyllian Huntley Harris, and she couldn't write for shit. Virtually nothing else is known about her. She died in 1939.

Oh, we saw the first episode of Season Four of Fringe, and...wow. More, please. I am impressed and pleased. There are points I could get picky about, but I'm not going to, because the show is just too much fun.

Also, here's an interesting bit of trivia. My first rejection slip ever came from the late, lamented Twlight Zone magazine in 1982 (at least, I think it was '82). The story was a stinker, and it deserved the rejection, believe me. Anyway, at the time, the editor was T. E. D. Klein, who wrote the excellent and surprisingly (to me) successful Machenesque novel The Ceremonies (1984) and the shorty-story collection Dark Gods (1985), and, sadly, very little else. But, yeah, my first rejection slip came from T. E. D. Klein, who, turns out, wrote the introduction of the forthcoming Hippocampus Press collection of Arthur Machen stories, which will feature the afterword I wrote in 2008 for a different collection of Machen stories. It's an odd little twist of fate.

Um...well...I have gone on haven't I?

Inveterate,
Aunt Beast

* Then again, there's really nothing wrong with the word sad. Not intrinsically. The problem is people who use it childishly, habitually, with marked naïveté. Usually, these are people with a stunted world view.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Functioning on five and a half hours sleep right now (and no, I don't fucking want to hear some sob story about how you've subsisted on a mere twenty-five minutes per night for the last eight years. This isn't a goddamn contest. There is no prestige in the Land of Monsieur Insomnia).

Cause in my head there’s a Greyhound station
Where I send my thoughts to far off destinations,
So they may have a chance of finding a place
Where they’re far more suited than here.
– DCFC

Gods, I'm never going to get used to the fucked-up present, which used to be the future, and will, shortly, be the distant past. The weirdness, by turns, baffles, astounds, and makes me furious. Case in point: You may now preorder The Drowning Girl: A Memoir from Amazon.com, even though it won't be released until March 6, 2012, more than six months from now. I will not even pretend to try to understand this, but okay, whatever. Have at it. The goddamn CEM (copy-edited manuscript) hasn't even arrived yet. It was due on August 31st, but Irene waylaid it, to my relief. Anyway, hell, there are bits of this book that haven't even been written yet. But you can still order it. Oh! Hey. Let's have some fun. Follow the link and click the stupid little "Like" icon.

Anyway....

Yesterday, I wrote 1,250 words on an as yet-untitled Mars story (for Sirenia Digest 69). Most of my energy was spent trying to create a plausible voice. Not only the voice the story's being told in, but the voice of a woman who lives in a hardscrabble Martian society a couple of centuries from now. Maybe only a hundred years ahead, but still. It's a problem virtually no sf writer is willing to tackle, and that drives me nuts. The combination of multicultural and multilingual homogenization, normal drift in languages (cyclic long-term drift, unidirectional short-term, and also the creation of creole, possibly via catastrophic agents), accelerating technological advancement (even assuming the probability that this "ATA" will eventually plateau), and so forth – write good science fiction and take all this shit into account, and...well, you'd get a book or story as hard for an early 21st Century reader to understand as it is for them to understand, say, Beowulf in the original Old English (West Saxon and some Anglian). Sure, it's fun to play with nuts and bolts and gadgets, but if you want to convince me that I'm seeing a possible (but improbable) future, make an effort. It's no different than designing an alien ecosystem, but failing to take into account the innumerable variables that would shape the planet's atmosphere, geology, biosphere, etc. Actually, with both alien language and biology, and also with alien tech, the problem is so complex as to be unsolvable, as, we must extrapolate from a single data point: Earth. Give me a thousand data points, and we can begin to enter the realm of cautious certainty.

In short, sf is really fucking hard to write, unless you settle for hand waving, and pulling shit out of your ass, and not asking the hard questions.

And I admit that, very often, my sf has done all three. Look at "Bradbury Weather." I wanted zeppelins, of some sort, on Mars. This whole agonizing affair is recorded in my blog entries from sometime in 2003 or 2004, but I did the math, the aerodynamics, the physics, the chem, everything. And unless I wanted zeppelins that would crash, explode, or be the size of Manhattan, it just wasn't possible (this was based on a Martian atmo fairly close to the present condition). So, I said fuck it. Zeppelins on Mars will be cool. I want mind candy. And so I set the science aside and wrote a wonder tale.

There's nothing wrong with that. Not in the least. Some of the greatest writers ever to have written stories set on distant planets – Bradbury, for example, or Burroughs (E. R., not W. S.) – paid little heed to the problems of science, even as understood in their respective days. And the stories were none the poorer. And there are later writers who only went partway, like Ursula K. LeGuin and Frank Herbert, but again they have produced wonderful sf. Still more recent sf authors, even with short-term predictions – Gibson is a good example – almost always miss the mark, Gibson by his own admission**. The decision has to be made, a personal decision for each and every sf author – how hard do I want this to be on present-day readers?

But still, it drives me nuts. Especially the anthropological and linguistic angles. Some would say this is because I write so-called "soft sf." First off, this isn't really true, as my sf often employs biology and geology; a lack of focus on technology does not render sf soft (even if you buy into all that soft sciences vs. hard sciences malarkey, and I don't). Secondly, it ignores the effect that elements of so-called "hard sf" would have on elements of so-called "soft sf." Tech and language evolve hand in hand. You only have to look as far as the geegaws and lingo of our IT obsessed era to figure that out.

And, what's more, the future won't magically recall more of the past. No, not even with the internet or Google Books or any of that. In fact, given the transitory nature of much of the stuff you read on computers, people in the 23rd Century may have more trouble deciphering the common tongues and slang of people two centuries before them.

Oh, and hey...a hundred years from now, there will be no Twitter, no Facebook, no pdas or iPods or e-cigs or Kindles. There might not even be an internet that is recognizable as such. I know all this shit's shiny and makes you feel all Jetsons and shit, but the combined forces of capitalism, planned obsolescence, and actual technological "advancement" will insure that the shiny of today is the dull, rusty, and forgotten of just a decade or so. Eight-track cartridges, anyone?

Okay, now I must be a good honey badger, show the platypus my canines and the cobra stuck between my teeth, send the dodo for take out Mandarin/Abyssinian, and confab with the mothmen.

Swing out,
Aunt Beast

** Also, we should distinguish between that sf which seeks to be descriptive and that which seeks to be primarily predictive.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Oh my fucking dogs. We didn't get to sleep until 4:30 ayem, then woke at 10 ayem. I woke from a hellish dream (thank you, both of you, you who know who you are, you and that fucking day in October 2005) into the mouth of an overheated water buffalo. More on that shortly. The overheated water buffalo, not the hellish dream or heat-induced sleep deprivation. Our heat index is already 97˚F.

Where was I? No, where am I? Oh, here. Great comments yesterday, kittens. Let's keep it up, through another scalding day.

Just sold "The Prayer of Ninety Cats" to Subterranean Press for Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 3. Nope, don't know the book's release date yet, but I'm very happy with the sale.

As for yesterday, well...other than a LOT of email, the less said the better. Work that should have been done was not done. However, I have devised a way to recover. It calls for me finishing Blood Oranges at the end of the third week of August, instead of at the end of July. Fortunately, there was wiggle room. Now, I just gotta get back on that goddamn horse by Monday.

If you're reading this, Merrilee, I've not yet acquired a second coolerator. The one we needed was out of stock. AC units are crazy out of stock up here, which is hardly surprising. Our windows really aren't conducive to window units, so we need another (and smaller than Dr. Muñoz) portable unit. So, no longer broke, but still broiling.

---

One thing that has occurred to me is how little the "triggery" people actually know about human psychology. Sure, if you've been attacked by a dog and maimed, you're going to have issues with dogs. Obviously. Well, no. Many, but not all, people will react that way. Let us avoid oversimplification. Anyway, point is, there are going to be hundreds or thousands of other "triggers," most of them working on a subconscious level, that you'll never be able to guard against. Which leads to all the "unexplained" anxiety and panic attacks experienced by people with PTSD. Which brings us back to the problem of oversimplified pop psych. Mostly, I think the "triggery" folk are desperately trying to control their lives, when all our lives are, genuinely, all but completely beyond our control.

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Last night, we watched Colin and Greg Strause's Skyline (2010). When I saw the trailer in the theatre, I was impressed and hopeful. But bad and lukewarm reviews kept me away. In truth, it's a perfectly enjoyable big bug sort of sci-fi invasion flick. Sure, it needs a script in the worst sort of way, and the acting's pretty off key. And talk about "unsympathetic characters," what a lot of sleazeballs. However, this is irrelevant, as the real stars are the SFX, which is how it works with the Bros. Strause. And the SFX and creature design, that part's exquisite. It's just a shame no one hired screenwriters who could, you know...write. Or directors that could direct people, and not just CGI programmes. But, like I said, it was fun to watch – quite a bit more than Battle Los Angeles. And unlike Battle Los Angeles, it had a pleasantly and more realistically bleak ending.

After the movie, we watched the first three episodes of Steven Speilberg's Falling Skies. Well, the two-part pilot and the first regular episode. Not bad, in that TV non-space opera sf sort of way. Watchable. Some good moments here and there. But it does feel like television. Which is to say that it feels constrained, and I don't believe for a minute all those people would be so clean six months after becoming nomadic refugees from an extraterrestrial invasion. Creature design is so-so. I find this sudden bloom of alien menace films interesting. True, it's a nice break from zombies. But I wonder at the cause. Probably just the usual Hollywood clusterfuck, especially given that both Skyline and Battle Los Angeles flopped at the box office. The only truly good film to emerge from this, of course, is Abrams' superb Super 8 (a joy, all round).

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Two films I'm very excited about just now – excited about their potential – are Andrew Stanton's John Carter (US release date 9 March 2012) and Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.'s prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing (US release date 14 October 2011). I do worry the latter could go horribly awry, but the trailer looks very promising. As for the former, I think I have faith in Stanton to do it right, and I love the trailer. I was a huge fan of Burroughs, and especially the Mars books, when I was a kid. Anyway, here are both trailers:

John Carter:



The Thing:



---

I'm living in an age
That calls darkness light.
Though my language is dead,
Still the shapes fill my head.
-- Arcade Fire

I have no tribe.

Okay...gotta try to be productive.

Hotter Than Hot,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)


greygirlbeast: (white)
The cold hangs onto Providence with a death grip. At least the snow is gone, and there's sun.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,223 words on The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. And realized that I'm much nearer THE END than I'd guessed. It could be finished today and tomorrow. Maybe three days at the most. And the realization is disorienting, to say the least. Also, it occurred to me this morning that one important thing that sets this book apart from my previous novels is that place has never been so unimportant. There is a sense of place, of Providence (and mostly the Armory district), of the RISD Museum on Benefit Street, and the Athenaeum, the Harvard Museum of Natural History, and, most especially, of the Blackstone Gorge and Rolling Dam at Millville, Massachusetts. The book also weaves in Boston, Manhattan, and LA, and other places. But almost all of it takes place in Imp's apartment in the Armory. The Drowning Girl: A Memoir could almost be adapted as a stage play with two, maybe three, sets: Imp's apartment, the RISD Gallery, a seashore. Curiously, I didn't include the Blackstone River, the novel's most important locale, outside Imp's home, on that list of potential sets.

I'll write on it today, and tomorrow, and maybe on Monday...and then I'll probably have found THE END.

Also, yesterday we proofed "Hydraguros," which is being reprinted in Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 2. I wrote this story a year ago, and I'm still in love with it. It's my best sf since I wrote "In View of Nothing" and "A Season of Broken Dolls" in early 2007. And after the proofreading, I printed out exactly 25 copies of "Atlantis," the poem I wrote in August for everyone who donated to Spooky's birthday fund. Each copy is printed in Garamond on Crane's Crest Executive paper, 100% cotton, premium weight (28 lb.). Each is signed and numbered. There will be no more. These will go in the mail on Monday.

I printed and signed a new set of contracts for Two Worlds and In Between. Because one of Bill's cats barfed on the originals. Sorry, Bill, but I had to tell that story. It's just too funny (and I, too, live in constant fear of the wages of cat barf).

I got Vince's illustration for Sirenia Digest #63, and, honstly, it's one of the best he's ever done. It'll appear as the cover. Today, I'll assemble the issue, and subscribers should have it tonight or tomorrow.

So, that was yesterday.

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After dinner last night, we began reading Suzanne Collins' Catching Fire, the next book after The Hunger Games. Though it was no small feat, Shaharrazad found the last few quests needed to complete the "Into the Nether" achievement. Seriously, I needed almost an hour to find the last four quests I needed. They were hiding in "Area 52," with this Consortium ethereal fuck who looked like he only had dailies (big blue question mark floating above his head), even with low-level quests turned on. In truth, he has a whole string of quests! Thank you, Spooky and WoWhead. I never would have found those on my own. So, now I go back to Shadowmoon Valley and Nagrand, try to finish up Outland, and get the Loremaster title.

I played a couple of hours of Rift. I'm sure everyone's getting tired of me gushing over the game. I'll just say I got Selwyn to Level 17. Oh, and I'll say this, too. It's hard to ignore that in advertising for the game Trion is relying almost exclusively on the "human" Ethian and Mathosian races. In ads, in the quick-start guide, on the cover of the box, almost everywhere...we see Ethians and/or Mathosian (physically, they're pretty much interchangeable). And I call this a pernicious sort of speciesism/racism. There are six player races in Telara, and many of us are not Ethian and Mathosian. Never mind that I see more people playing Bahmi and Kelari than anything else (I have no idea how things look on the Guardian side). And I just heard that the two RP/PVP shards must be filling up fast, as Trion opened a third today, Estrael.

Oh, while I gamed, Spooky streamed The Secret of Kells and the Mythbusters episode about duct tape (I'm sort of sorry I missed the latter).

---

Whatever I'm forgetting can wait until later.
greygirlbeast: (Barker)
That subject line, I was having breakfast and thinking about cyberpunk, about sf and trends and how cyberpunk has been deemed passé, irrelevant, out of fashion by the gatekeepers of science fiction. And that phrase popped into my mind. Maybe there's an sf short story that belongs to it. Maybe. Or it might be the title of my second collection of sf, which will happen someday.* Cyberpunk remains the sort of sf I most enjoy writing, fashion be fucked and damned.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Spooky's put up a PC copy of the lettered, boxed edition of From Weird and Distant Shores (2002). It goes without saying this book is very, very rare. The lettered includes "Rat's Star: A Fragment," a piece not published in the trade edition of the collection (or ever reprinted anywhere else). If we ever offer another of these, it'll be a long while to come.

Yesterday, I began the eighth chapter of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir and wrote 1,802 words. The chapter begins with a series of excerpts from a telephone answering machine, which says something telling about the structure of the novel, I think. After writing, we proofed "Spindleshanks (New Orleans, 1956)" for Two Worlds and In Between, because I'm behind of the proofreading for that project and racing to catch up.

Unless I leave the house today, it will have been nine days since I was last Outside,

Apparently, when I say, "Blizzard, you've lost me," it means I have to go forthwith and roll a new character and then spend five hours playing her. Last night, we did a little with Shah and Suraa, completeing the Twilight Highlands. And then...I created a Forsaken mage named Erszébetta and Spooky created a Forsaken priest named Tzilla, and the next five hours were a blur of silliness. One of my few favorite things about WoW are those first ten levels. Not sure why, but they're always the most fun. And it's just sad how much easier the starter levels are now compared to when I beagn playing in October 2008. I almost reached Level 11; we went to bed about 4:30 ayem, because there was no one here to tell us we were bad kids and shoo us away to bed. I deleted my dwarf paladin, Dís, to make room on Cenarion Circle for Erszébetta. Sorry, Dís. My heart belongs to Sylvanas.

This evening, after the writing is done, I'll be posting the new "what if I..." question. As before, answers will be screened, which means I'm the only person who will be able to see them. The ones that get reprinted in the digested will be printed anonymously. Which is meant to lower those nasty inhibitions you might be harboring.

*You steal this title, I publicly embarrass you, then kill you. The End.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
On the eleventh, only three days from now, it will have been seventeen years since the day I sat down and began writing Silk. I want to commemorate the day by giving away a signed (and probably scribbled in) copy of the novel (fourth edition mmp), but I can't think of a contest-type thing. Suggestions are welcome. And that reminds me, I owe everyone who chipped in on Spooky's birthday present a poem. Well, it's been written, and now we have the paper and envelopes, so those will go out very soon. You have not been forgotten; I'm just slow as slug juice.

Yesterday was spent on email, and cleaning the sad wreck I'd let my office become, and shelving books, and stacking books along the walls, and, finally, beginning to assemble the manuscript for Two Worlds and In Between for Subterranean Press. This is how today will be spent, on the manuscript, as I need to get it away to Bill Schafer ASAP. And that means I also need to write the introduction. It will be a short introduction, but it's still intimidating as all get out (I think that's an idiomatic phrase confined to the Deep South, but I might be wrong). A summing up. A taking of stock. Anyway, that's what I'll be doing today, and maybe taking a phone call or two related to the SECRET.

Last night, we watched the first episode of Season One of Caprica. I love this show, and was relieved that it wasn't canceled. However, I did not appreciate having to sit through some gods awful commercial for a pair of paranormal romance novels, Covet and Crave (shudder), by someone named J.R. Ward. Have you noticed how so many of the women cranking out this PR shit a) have oddly masculine sounding names, usually involving initials, and b) present themselves as Beverley Hills glam, but only manage to look like tarted-up nerds whose clothes are wearing them? Anyway, good episode. Later, I played City of Heroes and Villains, which is my new vice. I did the free trial awhile back, and some kind soul recently gifted me with a copy of the game (and a month of free play). So, yeah. Imagine Countess Elizabeth Báthory as a super villain (cough, cough), and you'll get the picture. It's big goofy fun. J.R. Ward could probably squeeze a series of novels out of it, except that Erzsebétta is a lesbian, in love with her ancient Egyptian blood mother, Sekhmet, and PR is generally a'feared of the lesbyterians (except for the pretend ones who really just do it because men like to watch). So, yes. Super villains. And later I read the first bit of Tom Griffiths' book on Antarctica.

I'm also reading Luis Chiappe's Glorifed Dinosaurs: The Origin and Early Evolution of Birds, and, as I mentioned, China Miéville's The Kraken, because one book at a time is apparently never enough.

Oh, and I joined Cat Valente ([livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna) on Twitter yesterday, for an impromptu dialogue on how Only Men Are Allowed To Write Hard SF. Because, you know, men say so. But that's okay, because us girls, we are allowed to write fantasy. We get all the sparkly unicorns and double rainbows. Because the men say so.

---

The last couple of nights, I'll think of a bunch of neat stuff from the HPLFF that I want to write down, but then, in the morning, when I sit down to make an entry, I've forgotten it all again. Maybe I'll do better tomorrow. There are some photos at the end of this entry, though, from the reception on Friday for Lovecraft Unbound that Dark Horse hosted at Hollywood Wine and Espresso, which is located catty-corner from the Hollywood theatre (and this sentence is far too long and I should really make it stop now). They're all in sepia, because Spooky was on some sort of mad sepia kick that afternoon.

---

I'm not sure, but I think maybe the trade hardback of The Ammonite Violin & Others is pretty close to being sold out again. If you mean to order a copy, best do it now (unless it's already too late).

The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, Part 3 )
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Spooky and I just made a deal, that we would never again both smile at the same time. It was just all kinds of wrong. And we weren't even really smiling. We were sort of grimacing. So, we're really agreeing never again to bare our teeth like that at the same time.

Kind of muggy and sticky and too warm here in Providence.

I just got the artwork from Vince for Sirenia Digest #58 (and I love it). But it seems very unlikely that I'll be able to find time to get the issue out before we leave for Portland. Again I apologize. I hate being late with anything, ever. Tardiness just irks me. I am a punctual beast.

As for yesterday's interesting email from my agent, let's just say that not all unexpected opportunites are good, and so we move on.

I'm trying to be higgledy-piggledy without the --- dividers. Seems more honest.

Still much too much to get done before we leave in the morning. I have a very long list. Yesterday, we drove to South County, to Spooky's parents' place. We have a housesitter for the days we'll be away, but Spooky's mom will be coming up to give Sméagol the malt-flavored prednisone he takes for his plasma cell pododermatitis. So, we took her a key. On the farm, wild grapes and ferns were going yellow with autumn, and there were autumnal bursts of red in a few trees. It was raining and windy, and I thought about the much worse weather in New York and New Jersey and Connecticut. I visited the steamsquid, who's getting along quite well, a year and a half after we rescued himherit. Afterwards, we drove to Warwick, and I looked for a couple of pairs of pants at the thrift store. I have developed an almost religious enthusiasm for thrift stores of late (in spite of garish overhead lighting). Anyway, I found two pairs, including an absurdly large pair of brown corduroys. I almost got a pair of seersucker pants, but it's late in the year for seersucker.

I read two more stories in Haunted Legends, Steven Pirie's "The Spring Heel" and Laird Barron's "The Redfield Girls." I liked both, but found the Pirie story especially effective. And we finished Kristin Hersh's Rat Girl last night, which is truly excellent, and which I strongly recommend.

I also finished Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age late last night, when I should have been asleep, but was, instead, awake. My opinion at the end is pretty much the same as it was halfway through the novel. Wonderful worldbuilding, an intriguing (if far-fetched) future, an interesting quasi-Dickens pastiche, but not a single act of characterization in sight. The novel is actually more like a long outline for a novel. It's a great mountain of plot and ideas. This happened, and this happened, and this happened. But...we are never allowed to see into the people to whom all this plot is happening. Sometimes, we're told how someone feels, but we're pretty much never shown. Which makes this only one half of a good novel; I can't even consider it finished. It's sort of amazing, that a book can be so devoid of characterization. Anyway, I think I'll read the new China Miéville next. And probably a bunch of other stuff, because I seem unable to read only one book at a time.

This will be my last entry until after Portland, and I feel like I'm forgetting shit.

I read "Pickman's Other Model" aloud last night. It's the piece I want to use for my reading on Sunday. The reading's an hour long, and reading the story at a leisurely pace, it came in at about fifty-five minutes. So, I don't know. I'll either read it, or something from The Ammonite Violin & Others. Oh, and DO NOT FORGET. This weekend is be kind to Spooky weekend. Oak moss and voodoo donuts. I'm serious. Just don't try to hug her, because she bites.

And while I won't be tweeting, or blogging, or facebooking (???) on this trip, I will be taking tons of photos, and will post a bunch of them afterwards.

Now, I think I need a bath.

Oh, fuck! It's National Coffee Day!
greygirlbeast: (Shah1)
The weather seems to have turned cool again. It was warm enough yesterday in the House that we had to crank up Dr. Muñoz for the first time in weeks.

Almost all of yesterday was spent working on the interview for Weird Tales. How is that possible? Because I have an almost ironclad rule about live interviews, which is simply that I almost never agree to them. Almost. So maybe it's only tinclad. My ability to be articulate has an annoying tendency to wink out when I'm having to answer questions "live." The live interviews I've given over the course of my writing career can likely be counted on one hand. Or two. One, if it has a lot of fingers. There was one I did on the telephone with Publisher's Weekly in, I think, 1996. I was still living in Athens. I did a couple of live radio interviews after Silk came out in 1998, and one to the Birmingham Post-Herald. After that, there's a big gap. In 2007, after much reluctance, I finally agreed to be interviewed for Frank Woodward's documentary, Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown. But I'm not sure that even counts as live. There were about a bazillion takes, and it took all day to get through it, as I was allowed to get answers just right. In 2008, I gave a live interview to Locus during ReaderCon 19. A month or so later, I gave one to a reporter from the South County Independent about The Red Tree; we met at the Peace Dale Public Library for that one. So, yeah. Not many at all, especially considering I've probably done more than a hundred interviews since 1996 or so.

Today, I go back to work on Sirenia Digest #58. Last night, I saw Vince's first sketch for the illustration he's doing to accompany "John Four," and I loved it.

"Faces in Revolving Souls" will be reprinted in the November 9th issue of Lightspeed. Also, "The Pearl Diver" is being reprinted in a forthcoming anthology of dystopian science fiction, details TBA. "The Melusine (1898)" is being reprinted in a forthcoming anthology of steampunk fiction. Lots of good reprints.

And speaking of my science fiction, I really will be writing The Dinosaurs of Mars, finally, and it's scheduled to be released by Subterranean Press late in 2011. Bob Eggleton is still onboard for the project.

---

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thanks. Also, [livejournal.com profile] catconley, please, please, please contact Spooky about your recent eBay purchases. It's very important.

---

Here's a picture I took of Jupiter and the Moon back on Wednesday night. I've been meaning to post it, and kept forgetting. But here it is. It's all a blur, because our camera sucks for this sort of thing. With my naked eye, the moon was the moon, and Jupiter was clearly a planet. But at least the smudgy lights are pretty. That's the closet Jupiter's been to Earth since 1951, a mere 368 million miles (592 million kilometers) away. It won't be this close again until 2022.

Jupiter and the Moon )


---

No Insilico roleplay last night. Instead, Spooky and I did two Outland dungeons, both in Terokkar: the Mana-Tombs and Auchenai Crypts. It was good to switch off the brain and be Shaharrazad. I know the armory page says she's Shaharrazad the Diplomat, but that's really just a way of catching people off their guard. Last night, she rained fire upon the heads of ornery Dranei necromancers. After WoW, we read more of Kristin Hersh's Rat Girl. Recording the first 4AD album, vicious dobermans, Liverpudlian sound engineers, preganancy, and Betty Hutton. We're coming to the end of the book, and I'm not wanting it to be THE END.

Anyway. Those doughnuts won't make themselves, and the mothmen are casting a baleful eye my way. Yeah, just one eye. They're sort of stingy. Or maybe they're mocking me.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yesterday was wretched. Not much point watering down the truth. My head wasn't right, and my guts were worse. I spent a good bit of the day in bed. No writing was done. I didn't go Outside. Nothing was accomplished.

We shall see what today will be.

There were a few "slits of light" to yesterday. Peter sent me a copy of The Juniper Tree And Other Blue Rose Stories (Subterranean Press). The mail brought a very small royalty check from Steve Jones in London, for The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror.

Then last night, after trying to sit up awhile, I went back to bed. Spooky and I watched the newest episode of Project Runway (I really, really love Mondo). We watched two episodes of some exceptionally ridiculous Animal Plant cryptozoology series. The first imagined a plesiosaur in Monterey Bay; the second was about the "Oklahoma Octopus." Gotta say, if I were younger, I'd start a punk band called Oklahoma Octopus. Anyway, then we watched J.T. Petty's The Burrowers (2008), which, quite unexpectedly, turned out to be marvelous. It belongs to that all too neglected genre, the Weird Western. There are a few missed notes: the start is a little slow, and I could have done without the final shot, which was unnecessary. But, all in all, well acted, well filmed, and creepy as hell. It's one of those rare dark films where things start out very bad and just keep getting worse, spiraling down to a place no one and nothing can ever escape. The Burrowers can be streamed free from Netflix. Check it out.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thanks.

---

A comment from [livejournal.com profile] dragau, from day before yesterday (or the day before that), back to the subject of the lack of characterization in Neal Stephenson's novels:

Often when I read Stephenson, I feel the omission you describe, that his characters are indifferent toward their mindless drudgery of existence, and they follow their paths as pawns lacking anything better to do, their lives predestined. For the Baroque Cycle, I was hoping for a novel on par with Gary Jennings. Instead, we got an extended soap opera like War and Peace with its cookie-cutter characterization. After my disappointment with Anathema, I will be waiting to buy used paperbacks of his future novels.

As a measure of comparison, I think Stephenson serves better in contrast with your own stories. Many of your own characters also experience the drudgery and recognize the futility of fighting their fates, but you seize that oppression and wring from it every emotion and metaphor. You mop the floor with the tears and self-pity of those who surrender. Meanwhile, your strong characters rally themselves with the adage "I can fuck plenty with the future," and then they act, win or lose.

Conversely, Stephenson's protagonists are often mere witnesses to great events or they are catalysts. When they do perform a climactic act, their achievement really is being in the right place at the right time. This is progressively more so in his later novels, whereas you got the manipulative plot tropes worked out of your system early, and now for example, although the reader may know your main character will commit suicide, the paths leading to that eventuality will have many branches of uncertainty.


The only point with which I would disagree is that I don't make a distinction between strong and weak characters in my stories. Sometimes, surrender requires more resolve and greater courage than does fighting.

---

Come here, pretty please.
Can you tell me where I am?
You, won't you say something?
I need to get my bearings.
I'm lost,
And the shadows keep on changing.

And I'm haunted,
By the lives that I have loved
And actions I have hated.
I'm haunted,
By the lives that wove the web
Inside my haunted head
-- Poe, "Haunted"

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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