It's not that cold. It's not even (quite) as cold as it was at the beginning of the month. But it's sufficiently cold that when I was outside shoveling and taking care of my mom's dogs yesterday I could not afford exposed skin for even three minutes. (I pulled off my outer glove and used my phone in my glove liner, and my damned hand nearly froze. Likewise an ear, when my alpaca snood/cowl/ear-and-face-covering-tube slipped away from the edge of my hat.)
-14 when I got up this morning, counting windchill. Up to a balmy and tropical -9 now.
As you no doubt have heard, we've been having some rollicking weather in the U.S. It was sixty degrees last week, and -20ish with windchill the week before that. (In our barbaric Fahrenheits, yes. Some of us still can't get over the idea the Earth is round. At least we have thermometers.) And I live in a house that's eleventy-four years old, and has some original windows. They've been retrofitted with storms, and we have a lot more insulation now, but due to the vagaries of old houses, there are some quirks. For example, my fridge is in the mudroom, which is uninsulated and unheated.
So we dress warm around the house. Witness and behold my styling January fashion ensemble:
Two layers of longjohns (wool and silk) (I guess we're supposed to call them "base layers" now?), an alpaca skirt, and a cashmere turtleneck. I have a rag wool cardigan for if I get chilly, and I debated a layer of polypro on top as well.
When I got downstairs, I added two layers of fingerless mitts and a beanie.
...and the thing is, you know, secretly I kind of enjoy winter. But I can enjoy it because I'm prepared, because I have this wardrobe (painstakingly assembled out of end of season sales and secondhand stores though much of it is.) I own a down coat that's basically a sleeping bag with sleeves, and I have more scarves than I know what to do with. (Bless knitters in the family.)
A lot of people don't have the resources to handle it. They may live in parts of the country where it never usually gets this cold. Or they may just not be able to afford warm clothing. Or heat.
And we're looking at this hard weather continuing for at least the next seven to ten days, and if that's the last of it this winter I will be surprised.
I guess the moral of the story is that it doesn't hurt, if you have to resources, to give to a coat drive or a food pantry or a heating subsidy charity, this time of year. To put out some high-calorie treats for the birds. (Seeds and suet, not bread, if you please.) To build a feral cat shelter.
It's never a bad time to be kind.
- Current Mood: cold
- Current Music:the trees creaking outside
travel and appearances 2014:
- January 10th at 6 pm: MIT SFS: Cambridge, Massachusetts (with Scott Lynch)
- February 13-15, 2014: Boskone: Boston, Massachusetts
- March 14-16, 2014: Tucson Festival of Books: Tucson, Arizona
- March 22-24, 2014: Vericon: Harvard Univerity, Cambridge Massachusetts
- April 25-27th, 2014: RavenCon: North Chesterfield, Virginia (Guest of Honor)
- May 1-5, 2014: Mo-Con: Indianapolis, Indiana (Guest of Honor with Scott)
- June 20-23, 2014: 4th Street Fantasy: Minneapolis, Minnesota
- July 3-7, 2014: ConVergence: Minneapolis, Minnesota
- July 11-13, 2014: Finncon: Jyväskylä, Finland (Guest of Honor)
- August 8-10, 2014: Nine Worlds Con, London, England
- August 14-17, 2014: Worldcon: London, England
- October 10-13, 2014: Comicon, New York City, New York
- October 31-November 2, 2014: ICON: Iowa City, Iowa (Guest of Honor with Scott)
- November 14-16, 2014: Windycon: Lombard, Illinois (Guest of Honor with Squeecast)
(Eventually, this list will contain signings as well as convention appearances.)
- Current Mood: hungry
1) Caitlin Kittredge, Bone Gods
2) Donna Andrews, Swan for the Money
3) Cleo Coyle, The Decaffeinated Corpse
4) Jon Armstrong, Yarn
5) Barbara Neely, Blanche Passes Go
6) Kathryn Stockett, The Help
7) Gina Robinson, The Spy Who Left Me
8) Wesley Chu, The Lives of Tao
9) Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois, Unicorns
10) Harry Connolly, King Khan
11) Tanya Huff, Smoke and Shadows
12) Scott Lynch, The Republic of Thieves
13) Michael Moss, Salt Sugar Fat
14) Gerry Alanguilan, Elmer
15) Steven Brust and Skyler White, The Incrementalists
16) Patricia Briggs, Dragon Blood
17) Pamela Dean, The Hidden Land
18) Pamela Dean, The Whim of the Dragon
19) Paul Cornell, London Falling
20) Seanan McGuire, Midnight Blue-Light Special
21) C. E. Murphy, Urban Shaman
22) William S. Burroughs, Junky
23) Robin McKinley, Dragonhaven
24) Tamora Pierce, Mastiff
25) Jane Langton, The Transcendental Murder
26) Daniel Silva, The Defector
27) Donna Andrews, Murder with Puffins
28) Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys
29) Ian Tregillis, Necessary Evil
30) Donna Andrews, Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon
31) Lawrence Block, The Girl with the Long Green Heart
32) Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler's Wife
33) Jane Langton, Dark Nantucket Noon
34) Joe Hill, NOS4A2
35) Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash
36) Donna Andrews, We'll Always Have Parrots
37) Max Gladstone, Three Parts Dead
38) Laura Anderson, The Boleyn King
39) Richard Kadrey, Sandman Slim
40) Krista Scott-Dixon, Fuck Calories
41) James S.A.Corey, Leviathan Wakes
42) Alaya Dawn Johnson, The Summer Prince
43) Dan Simmons, Hyperion
44) Steven Brust, Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grill
45) Barbara Hambly, Good Man Friday
46) Merrie Haskell, Handbook for Dragon Slayers
47) David Gemmell, Legend
48) Jonathan Strahan (ed.), Fearsome Journeys
49) Karen Lord, Best of All Possible Worlds
50) Kate Wilhelm, No Defense
51) Algis Budrys, Benchmarks: Galaxy Bookshelf
52) Larry Marder, Tales of the Beanworld
53) Warren Ellis, Crooked Little Vein
54) Cassandra Rose Clarke, The Mad Scientist's Daughter
55) Walter Mosley, The Man in my Basement
56) Robert Jackson Bennett, American Elsewhere
57) Joe Abercrombie, Best Served Cold
58) Mindy Klasky, A Girl's Guide to Witchcraft
59) Elizabeth Bear, Steles of the Sky
60) Donna Andrews, No Nest For The Wicket
61) Martin Cruz Smith, Stalin's Ghost
62) Ernest Cline, Ready Player One
63) Matthew Woodring Stover, Heroes Die
64) Jim C Hines, Codex Born
65) Thomas W. Lippman, Understanding Islam
66) Thornton Wilder, The Skin of Our Teeth
67) Ted Haigh, Vintage Cocktails and Forgotten Spirits
68) Toe EnJoe, Self-Reference ENGINE
69) Donna Andrews, The Penguin Who Knew Too Much
70) Sean Stewart, Galveston
71) David Stuart Davies, Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes
72) Cleo Coyle, French Pressed
73) Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice
74) Greer Gilman, Cry Murder in a Small Voice
75) Brian Clevinger, Atomic Robo and the Fightin' Scientists of Tesladyne
76) Donna Andrews, Cockatiels at Seven
77) Donna Andrew, Six Geese A-Slayin'
78) Max Gladstone, Two Serpents Rise
79) Ben H. Winters, The Last Policeman
80) Lyndsay Faye, Gods of Gotham
81) Ben H. Winters, Countdown City
82) Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
83) Jodi Meadows, Asunder
84) Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead Vol. 1
85) Susan Klaus, Secretariat Reborn
86) Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
87) Maurice Broaddus, King Maker
88) Jon Klassen, I Want My Hat Back
89) Roger W. Moss, Victorian Exterior Decoration: How to Paint Your Nineteenth-Century American House Historically
90) Art T. Burton, Black Gun, Silver Star: The Life and Legend of Frontier Marshal Bass Reeves
91) William T. Cox, Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods: With a Few Desert and Mountain Beasts
92) Lyndsay Faye, Seven for a Secret
93) Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
94) Jack Skillingstead, Life on the Preservation
95) Libby McGugan, The Eidolon
96) Ramez Naam, Crux
97) M.F.K. Fisher, How to Cook a Wolf
98) Michael Rutter, Upstairs Girls: Prostitution in the American West
99) Jill Jonnes, Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the race to electrify the world
100) Madeline Ashby, iD
101) Anne Charnock, A Calculated Life
102) Ursula Vernon, Digger Omnibus
103) Val McDermid, Fever of the Bone
104) Holly Black, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
105) Val McDermid, The Retribution
106) Martin Cruz Smith, Tatiana
107) A.S. Byatt: Ragnarok: The End of the Gods
108) Lauren Beukes, The Shining Girls
109) Lyndsay Faye, Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson
110) Ian Tregillis, Something More than Night
111) Carla Speed McNeil, Finder: Sin-Eater, Volume One
- Current Mood: curious
- Current Music:Regina Spektor - On The Radio
Kintsugi is one of my favorite metaphors for surviving trauma--it's true, after all: you'll never be the same again. As Tom Waits sang,
you can never go back
and the answer is no
and wishing for it only makes it bleed.
But here's a repair process that proves that even things once broken can be made beautiful and useful again. And the character can be part of the charm.
But the best part is...
Working with the powdered gold means that the entire room fills up with tiny beautiful magical pixie-dust sparkles that glitter and flash.
I'm totally putting that in a book.
Now I Just have to decide which bear will be known forevermore as Tycho Bearhe.
- Current Mood: cheerful
- Current Music:Regina Spektor - Chelsea Hotel
Last night, I finished reading Lauren Beukes' The Shining Girls, which has been much-discussed this year.
It's quite good. Good enough that there was some stuff about it that I felt like talking about. There will be spoilers, natch.
2013 appears to be the year in which people publish books about supernatural serial killers and the brave girls who escape and oppose them. It's the escaped trope of the year. Volcano asteroid movie summer!
So, the central metaphor of the book is for this reader its most interesting element. The Shining Girls functions on several levels, but for me the most telling one is the thematic; the book follows the career of a time-traveling serial killer who destroys extraordinary women, and the life of the one woman who escapes him...
And that central metaphor, sadly for me, is never more than glancingly resolved. Beukes presents a really brilliant overview of the lot of women of the 20th century--of how they have struggled with sexism and in many cases been destroyed by the unflinching serial murderer of the patriarchy, as it were--but of course, the joke is... these women aren't extraordinary, although the narrative presents them as such.
Or maybe it's fairer to say that in the real world, women are extraordinary in a lot of ways. I know extraordinary world-changing women who are teachers, preachers, stay at home moms... not just artists of one sort or another.
Every single one of them is a sympathetic and worthy character, which makes their inevitable deaths the more appalling, and on that level the book is stupidly effective. (I was particularly attached to Alice and Zora, and I'm not sure I ever quite forgave the book after they were lost.)
But the thing is... the book postulates, in a fashion that bothered me a little, that they are somehow special women. Or maybe it's just that the antagonist and his time-traveling evil House perceive them as Special, and as Must Be Destroyed. (Protagonist Kirby's mom Rachel is no less special than the Shining Girls, but she's damaged and self-destructive... and the majority of non-Shining female characters are too venal and banal even to qualify as "evil". So I'm not actually sure what the narrative wants me to think here.)
So there's no clear thematic resolution or argument here--at least none that I was able to unpick. Patriarchy Destroys Women Who Dare Step Out Of Line. Film at 11. I wanted the book to tell me something more. To illuminate a complexity I hadn't considered otherwise.
Of course, the fact that this is the biggest thing bugging me is pretty indicative of the general quality of plot, prose, characterization, structure, and just about everything else, I couldn't find much to complain of. (The book is completely uninterested in how the House works, and what it's relationship with this particular psychopath is, except for some hints that it provides what its resident desires, but I'm not sure that's really a weakness when the narrative so patently does not care.)
The other thing that I'm still chomping on with regard to this book is the chewy unresolved issue of the causal loop. Of lack of free will. Of predetermination and predestination. In other words, on one level it seems as if these women are destined to be great... but they are also destined to die. There is no future in which they live.
Time does not fork in this book--nothing that happens is ever presented as escapable. This is made definite and more than definite by the limits placed on the antagonist's ability to time travel--he can never go past his own death, though of course he doesn't know it. (He also never seems to meet himself, which is a little odd, given how his activities create loops all over the place. Also, I wondered why he didn't go for medical treatment in, say, 1984 instead of 1930. I'm just saying.)
On a different note, though. I'm impressed as hell by the South African writer's ability to express certain aspects of the American zeitgeist, or weighty moments in American history. I've said for years that often, the people who write most tellingly of a place were not from there (Robert Frost was born a Californian. Willa Cather spent the first ten years of her life in Virginia.)
I'm pretty sure Lauren Beukes didn't spend much time in Depression Chicago. But then again, maybe she's got a House of her own.
- Current Mood: curious
- Current Music:The Go-Gos, This Town
(Some days, you just can't resist an Avengers reference...)
- Current Mood: flirty
- Current Music:A.S. Byatt: Ragnarok
...to have a working oven again.
I could have fixed this months ago, but there was travel and it required a phone call.
It's been a pretty good year for me, productivity-wise. I've published four short stories, a novella, a novelette, a piece of flash fiction, and a novel. And I've written and delivered a whole bunch of stuff that's not coming out until next year...
...and my dance card for 2014 is officially full. That's a pretty nice feeling right there.
If you want to find any of my work from the past year, here's your handy year-end list for doing so.
Shattered Pillars, the second Eternal Sky novel, came out in March. This central-Asian epic fantasy has been pulling in great reviews and reader response. I also made an intemperate blog post about being the first writer of an epic fantasy trilogy in history to deliver the third book on time. And I did it, albeit by the skin of my teeth. Steles of the Sky is scheduled for April of next year, and the ARCs are already in the hands of reviewers.
My other stand-alone book of the year was Book of Iron, a novella from Subterranean Press, the prequel to Bone and Jewel Creatures. These stories are also in the Eternal Sky universe, set about four hundred years later and in a different part of the world. In this one, Bijou and her friends race through poison Erem in order to stop a foreign Wizard from making a very, very bad mistake.
The flash fiction was an untitled piece for Popular Science, published in the July 2013 issue, dealing with interstellar travel and the way space smells.
The novelette was audio-only, in METAtropolis III: Green Space. It's called "Green and Dying," because everything is improved by Dylan Thomas, and it's a caper story about an attempt to liberate some IP from a seastead. Of course, something goes... really, really wrong.
And then there's the short stories!
From Fireside III, "Form and Void," a science fiction story about mean girls and hurt girls and space exploration and Io. I'm awfully proud of this one, and you can read it for free here. (I think this one is technically a 2012 publication, but it happened very late in the year, and you can actually read it online now.)
From Dark Faerie Tales, "Samarkar's Tale of the Three Genjia," in which one of the Eternal Sky protagonists retells a fairy tale. You can read this one for free as well. Obviously, this too is an Eternal Sky story.
There's a second Eternal Sky story out this year: "The Ghost Makers," in Fearsome Journeys. It's about a Gage and a Dead Man who discover they have an enemy in common, and what they do about with that knowledge.
My last story for 2013 is "The Governess," which was published in Queen Victoria's Book of Spells. It's about an unlikely alliance between two very different women... and some other things.
- Current Mood: productive
Here are some things I need to finish:
You ain't gonna like what I have to tell you, but I'm gonna tell you anyway.
Patience and Fortitude
Nothing made Matthew hate himself more than waiting for the elevator.
Pewter scraped across the black wave-caps of the Atlantic on the morning Carl Hughes learned how his lover had died.
An Apprentice to Elves
Tin laced her fingers together across her gravid belly and frowned along her nose at the feeble human child.
"On Safari in R'lyeh and Carcosa with Gun and Camera"
"We wouldn’t be having this conversation if you'd flunked Algebra."
"This Chance Planet"
"It's not like I'd be selling my own liver."
Johnny Backus was a daywalker. Johnny Backus was a vampire. Johnny Backus was a friend of mine.
When Cecily was three years old, she announced that she was "stared of the scares," meaning the basement stairs. It stuck. Especially since Cecily wasn't scared--or stared--of almost anything else.
I loved you not.
There are no unremarkable worlds.
As the innate perversity of the universe would have it, Officer Jericho was up to her elbows in the guts of a roasted pumpkin as big as her chest when her pager shrilled.
The universe will always need plumbers.
"A Time to Reap"
Krissy paused in the wings stage left, in air thick with the smell of dust, imagining thunderous applause.
- Current Mood: lethargic