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bear by san

March 2017



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won't you text me with your master plan?

I just had an epiphany in the shower.

I think I've been doing something wrong.

I have this tendency to do stuff in books that I think is totally cool, but which nobody else ever seems to notice. Due to a recent conversation, I'm thinking of all the biculture stuff in the Jenny books (everybody in them is the product of at least two cultures, which I had intended as a Relevant Thematic Strain (definitely not a comment: possibly an observation or a question) regarding what happens when two cultures meet and interact, given Hugely Advanced Alien Cultures and all that.). And also--now that Grail has been out for a while--it's becoming obvious that I did it again, with the iterating (and collapsing) bubbles of adulthood as-seen-from-inside-and-out. (Hint: Head is the only real grownup in those books, and somebody had to make ser. Although by the end of it Tristen is getting there.)

I love this stuff. As anybody who's read my Criminal Minds meta posts has probably figured out, it's one of my favorite things about fiction.

I've been trying to figure out how to make it all more obvious to everyone: a game anybody can play. And what I realized this morning is that that's probably stupid of me, because really, what I ought to be doing it just keep those games for my own amusement (hey, it lends structure, and it keeps me amused) and let them be opaque as they want to be, because what most people care about is just the damned story and the characters and the thematic and emotional payoff. (Which I also care about, don't get me wrong: for me, characters and decision-points really make or break a story.) 

This reminds me of a possibly-apocryphal conversation John W. Campbell supposedly had with Theodore Sturgeon re: McCarthyism. But I think in the end it's a good thing to know.

1) Charles Yu, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
2) Ben MacAllan, Desdaemona
3) Alex Bledsoe, The Sword-Edged Blonde
4) Catherynne M. Valente, Deathless
5) Kameron Hurley, God's War
6) Jodi Meadows, Incarnate (in draft)
7) Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn, Scientific Detective
8) Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn and the Fossil Cave
9) Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn and the Automatic House
10) Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn and the Swamp Monster
11) Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn on a Desert Island
12) Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn on the Ocean Floor
13) Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn and the Weather Machine
14) Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn and the Universal Glue
15) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi, The Thing Around Your Neck
16.) Peter Selby and Steve Slavin, Practical Algebra: a Self-Teaching Guide
17.) Tamora Pierce, Bloodhound
18.) Nnedi Okorafor, Akata Witch
19.) Geoff Ryman, Lust
20.) Patti Smith, Just Kids
21.) Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear, The Tempering of Men (page proofs: the only time I'll probably every just sit down and read the dratted thing.)
22.) Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn and the Smallifying Machine
23.) Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn and the Antigravity Paint
24.) Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine
25.) Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn, Time Traveler
26.) John Long, How to Rock Climb
27.) Tony DeTerlizzi and Holly Black, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book I: The Field Guide
28.) Tony DeTerlizzi and Holly Black, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book II: The Seeing Stone
29.) Tony DeTerlizzi and Holly Black, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book III: Lucinda's Secret
30.) Tony DeTerlizzi and Holly Black, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book IV: The Ironwood Tree
31.) Tony DeTerlizzi and Holly Black, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book V: The Wrath of Mulgarath
32.) Bernice L. McFadden, Glorious
33.) Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn, Invisible Boy
34.) Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn and the Voice from Space
35.) Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin, Danny Dunn and the Heat Ray
36.) Eric Jaffee, The King's Best Highway
37.) Olivia Judson, Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation
38.) Val McDermid, The Mermaids Singing
39.) Mira Grant, Feed
40.) Amanda Downum, Kingdoms of Dust (in draft)
41.) Megan Lindholm, Harpy's Flight
42.) Saladin Ahmed, Throne of the Crescent Moon (ARC)
43.) Caitlin Kiernan, The Drowning Girl (ARC)
44.) Val McDermid, Wire in the Blood
45.) Val McDermid, The Last Temptation
46.) Daniel Silva, The Messenger
47.) Rudy Rucker, Jim and the Flims
48.) Genevieve Valentine, Mechanique
49.) MD Lachlan, Wolfsangel

State of the Honeydew:

Revise "Underground": next week sometime
Online Writing Workshop review: April 15, 2011

Realms of Fantasy column: April 28, 2011
The Shaded King (Bone and Jewel Creatures II): April 30, 2011
Revise "Hobnoblin Blues" for chapbook: April 30, 2011
Range of Ghosts CEM: May 6, 2011
Online Writing Workshop review: May 15, 2011
Online Writing Workshop review: June 15, 2011
Range of Ghosts page proofs: June 19, 2011
Realms of Fantasy column: June 29, 2011
Realms of Fantasy article: June 29, 2011
Shattered Pillars: November 2, 2011
SF Horror story ("Form & Void"): December 25, 2011

World Horror Convention (barcon only): April 28-May 1 2011
Leprecon 37: May 6-8 2011
KGB reading: May 18 2011
Eurocon: June 17-19 2011 (barring volcanoes)
Fourth Street Fantasy Conversation: June 23-26 2011
Odyssey: July 1, 2011
Clarion: July 10-16, 2011
Viable Paradise: October 7-16, 2011

"Latency": March 2012
An Apprentice to Elves: June, 2012 with truepenny
Steles of the Sky : November 2012
"Underworld": September 2012

"Dark Leader": March 2013
"Something's Gotta Eat T. rexes": September 2013

No fixed deadline:

"The Deeps of the Sky"
Karen Memory
Smile (unless its name is actually Salt Water)
Unsuitable Metal
Gotham Jazz

"Untitled Space Opera Thingy" aka "Periastron"
"Steel Monkey"
"Posthumous Jonson"
"The Death of Terrestrial Radio"
"On Safari in R'lyeh and Carcosa with Gun and Camera"


I think more people will notice once your books become truly studied by academia. Your works have too many layers for a casual reader to pick up all of the nuances (this is not a bad thing). I love that I will still be discovering new things every time I re-read your classics. :-)
LOL. I like the ones I didn't notice at the time best. *g* ("Really? I did that? Thank you, Fred.")

I wonder if anybody apart from artists and neuroscientists is as aware of the fact that the part of the Me inhabited by the ego-I is a very small part of the whole Me indeed.
Buddhists have suggested something similar, I believe.
Sufficiently advanced martial artists, maybe. (Although that may fall under “artists”.) Certainly it sounds not unlike something the aikido 7th-dan who leads the dojo I train at would say.
That's what I was going to say. Someday a critical study is going to win the Best Related Hugo, and the author will be the president of the Elizabeth Bear Society.
Um, I got it and it's one of the things I love *most* about your writing. Keep on keeping on. Not everyone needs to get it.

And Jenny and Tristen are still my favorites.
I love that stuff. You know me. :) I don't think it's always so opaque but I think it is good that your stories are so compelling that I often have to read through them very, very quickly JUST TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT and then afterwards I can calm the hell down and pay attention to enjoying it, on a reread.
As my favorite professor was fond of orating, "La critique ne commence qu'à la deuxième lecture." (Criticism doesn't begin until the second reading.)
What usually happens is that we pick up the niftyness on subsequent readings, and it's like finding a $20 bill in a coat pocket or discovering (in September) that there is a box of Thin Mints hiding in the freezer.
"I've been trying to figure out how to make it all more obvious to everyone: a game anybody can play."

The game is in the not-noticing, the stopping dead in the middle of something completely unrelated a fortnight later and thinking 'WTF! Did she really do what just occurred to me?'

Shadow Unit reference purely subconscious, but entirely appropriate!
Yes, the *good* kind of fridge logic, the one where you're rambling along and suddenly frighten the cats with a shriek of revelation (and then drop all your current projects to do a re-read). I like those. <3
As a dear friend and partner in crime says: When writing, it's important to snicker to yourself as often as possible. Where "snicker to yourself" is loosely defined as "do things you think are neat".

It's a sentiment that I heartily agree with, but found myself surprised by hearing. In my day job as a software engineer, I'm basically in the business of doing clever things that most of my audience is actively disinterested in seeing.

However, finding a clever or elegant programming trick or a nifty theme in a story is an absolute gem for the reader. That moment where you go "Oh! OH!" is precious, so please keep doing what you do the way that you do it.
What everyone else said. Do the things you think are neat because that's what excites you about writing.

The MST3K people used to say, "We don't worry about *whether* people will get the jokes. The *right* people will get the jokes." Same thing applies to writing niftinesses...
I that trying to see it and not getting it is one of the (perversely - no denying that!) fun parts of reading your novels, Ms Bear; certainly so for me, insofar as I can tell that there's a lot of interesting intellectual things going on under the surface - and on rereads, I tend to pick up on at least a little of it - but that I'm either too dense, or just too engrossed in the story (...the truth probably lying somewhere in between) to see. It's what makes rereads so rewarding.
I do like it when you tell us what you were doing later on, so I can either feel very smart or start looking at the book in a new way. (I just finished Grail on Wednesday, so now I'm thinking about Head and how the other characters regard ser. Also, Cynric was my favorite character in this book, which is neither here nor there.)
Cynric is so much fun to write. I was going to kill her off, and my editor talked me out of it. *g*

don't dumb it down for us!

Besides, when Stanford puts together its 'Great Sci/Fi/Fantasy writers of the 21st Century" lit class, the profs are going to LOVE the onions you write for others to peel.

I love going back and rereading your novels, and noticing these gems you've left laying around in the open for folks to stumble upon.

Re: don't dumb it down for us!

This, exactly.
Yeah, I think as long as people get a good story for their money most will be happy -- whichever version of the story it is that they see and enjoy. (There are plenty of films where buying and watching the Director's cut doesn't make a whole lot of difference to many people -- but does to people who actually care that the extra scenes modify the subtextual characterisation of the hero or whatever)

The trick, perhaps, is to write both the good story *and* the other stuff for those readers who will discover and enjoy it (and more important -- for yourself), but not have too many signposts directing attention to the content which readers-who're-not-otherwise-looking-for-that-kind-of-thing get slapped in the face by. People will enjoy what they've got more if it isn't too obvious that some people are getting access to extra, because even if they know it isn't their cup of tea they get frustrated or even resentful -- they bought the same ticket *damnit* and didn't get everything the other guy got for the admission price!

[I tend to have the frustration thing with films like Hidden Dragon, Crouching Tiger... Seems to me I'm missing some cool culture-based clues which would help me understand better, but as it is I have FIGHT SCENES!!! and just when I think I'm following the rest of the story there's the odd cryptic image or remark which leaves me positive that I'm not getting it the way I could/should get it (if I weren't a mostly ignorant Westerner). Or possibly I'm torturing myself and the film is meant to be the equivalent of... well for me of 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'... "HUH? That's what all the fuss is about?"]

Edited at 2011-04-16 06:27 am (UTC)