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A squee kind of a day

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On Saturday Kepler's Books in Menlo Park held a Sci Fi/Fantasy Day. They had a very good program, with authors there, an even mix of science fiction and fantasy, who had panel discussions on a number of topics, most of which had to do with science fiction and, well, fantasy. The day started with Andy Weir, who wrote "The Martian", and Mathew Jobin, whom I hadn't heard of, but who wrote "The Nethergrim." They had a back-and-forth discussion that ranged from world building (more done on the fantasy, since Weir's Mars was as scientifically accurate as he could make it) to plotting to inspiration to many other topics. I enjoyed their talk, and I'm looking forward to reading "The Martian". (Yes, that sounds a little cold.)

The second talk was a class in Dothraki by David Peterson, the man who created the language. Since we don't watch AGoT, Chaz and I went next door with a couple of friends to have lunch. One of the nice things about local events of this sort is that we get to run into people we know but only see at conventions, and this gave us time to spend some quality time and have actual conversations. We had lunch with Effie Seiberg (who has a story in "Women Destroy Science Fiction", so there's one more reason to rush out and buy it) and Arley Sorg, who is supplementing his writing by being a fill-in photographer for Locus. The food, but particularly the company, was excellent.

Next was my favorite part of the day, was a group discussion called "Face Off: Science Fiction vs. Fantasy". This was supposed to be a discussion with the panelists taking sides, but since the panelists were Ellen Klages (who won a World Fantasy Award the weekend before), Pat Murphy (who herself has won a World Fantasy Award, and possibly a Nebula or two), Marie Brennan (who writes fantasy about science), and Chaz (who writes everything). What a fun panel! Emily Chiang (whose most recent book is a children's book set in China) moderated, and did a great job steering the flood of ideas. The audience enjoyed themselves and asked intelligent questions, and I certainly hope bought lots of books.

The final pairing was Tad Williams and Steven Erikson, but we didn't stay. That's too bad, because I've known Tad for a long time and Chaz has known Steven for a long time, but I doubt our absence was noticed. We had gone off to dinner and drinks with Chaz's panel participants plus spouses and other friends, and that was itself another fast-paced conversation with intelligent people. I was sorry the day had to end, but the nice thing about everyone being local is that I will probably see a lot of them at a Christmas party in a couple of weeks.

For those of you who would have loved to have been there, all the guests were interviewed by the podcast NerdVana, so you may be able to hear those at some point.

Nov. 13th, 2014

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I had a very Connie-Willis-esque dream this morning, which makes sense given that her "All Clear" has been my bedtime reading lately. "All Clear" is the second half of her novel begun with "Blackout", and it concerns several characters who are running around dealing with the situation they're in, namely, being time traveling historians stuck in London during the Blitz. Fortunately, in my dream I wasn't in the Blitz, but the dream started with me in San Francisco. My cell phone rang, and it was from a company I interviewed with last month, who said they're still interested in me. This dream call had a couple of people telling me how much they'd enjoyed meeting me, then the VP of the department I'd been interviewing for got on the line and said he was going to offer me a job. Then my cell phone died. When I was in San Francisco. So the rest of the dream was me trying to get home, in a dream kind of way, not a sensible way. At some point I got a phone, but I spoke to someone at another company (not one with a match in the real world, unfortunately) who was going to offer me a job, too. I woke up before I got any closure on either call, though I did run around a train station that bore no relationship to any Caltrain or BART station I've ever been in. I still hope I get that phone call for real, though.

in which I actually go somewhere

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Chaz and I are in Mendocino, up for the wedding of calendula_witch and her splendid fiancé Mark. I was amused to note, as we were preparing to leave, that it was Mac, not Barry, who slept on my suitcase, and Mac who sat on both my lap and Chaz's lap the night before we left. He must wuv us. Or recognizes that we feed him and give good scritches, though that may be what cats think of as love. We have good friends hanging out at the house and feeding them while we're gone, though.

The drive up here was gorgeous and very long. We took 101 to 128, which wound through spectacular stands of redwoods. This is the first road trip we've been on, and seeing the sights with my beloved was a joy. The winding roads, though, since I was the only driver, got old after a while, though this was greatly exacerbated by having to wait to pass through not one but two stretches of one-lane road for construction work. Still, the ride was beautiful.

We stopped for lunch in Petaluma, which Chaz told me is a spot on the cheese crawl he goes on periodically. We didn't buy cheese, but we did find a very good Italian restaurant downtown called Risibisi. I ordered the specials, butternut squash soup and sweet corn risotto, and was pleased with the results. We told the waiter we owed it to ourselves to look at the dessert menu, and were rewarded to find homemade doughnuts there. Om nom nom.

We're staying at the Headlands Inn, which is cute and comfortable and has a nice breakfast. Soon we'll head to the rehearsal, and tomorrow is the big day. It will be fun to meet our friends' other friends. And we passed through Albion just before Mendocino, so since we're up here we may get to see loupnoir. It's nice to have a vacation.

That book meme

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jemck posted her own belated list of books that have stuck with her, which was a Facebook meme last month. The rules were that you had to write down ten books that had stuck with you over the years, without thinking too hard or trying to over-analyze. (I might be paraphrasing at this point.) Her list inspired me to (finally) come up with my own list, so here it is:

1. "Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens. This was my favorite book when I was in the third and fourth grade (nine and ten years old). I was a depressed and angry child, though I didn't realize that was an odd thing to be, and Oliver Twist's sad life appealed to me tremendously.
2. "The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood" by Howard Pyle. Because Robin Hood. One of my early crushes that has stayed with me forever. I'm trying to write my own version of the tale right now. I read this book when I was ten (those two years were a magical time for me), and stayed up very late to finish it. I went upstairs once I was done, tears steaming down my face at the romanticism and sorrow at his death, to surprise my poor mother who was herself up late reading (for work, though).
3. "Dawn Wind" by Rosemary Sutcliffe. I love love love Rosemary Sutcliffe's Roman Britain novels, but I haven't read one that I haven't liked no matter what the period. Her Roman Britain novels give me that same shiver of excitement down my spine that very good fantasy and science fiction bring. I was tickled one time when I was in college to find that, a couple of days after reading a few paragraphs in my Latin sight-reading class, she had used those same paragraphs as a jumping-off point for one of her Roman historical novels. She's wonderful.
4. "The Final Reflection" by John M. Ford. I loved the early "Star Trek" novels. They read more like fan fiction than anything else. John M. Ford is a fabulous writer, and my favorite "Star Trek" novels were by fabulous writers who had written much more than "Star Trek": Barbara Hambly wrote a "Here Comes the Brides"-meets-"Star Trek" novel that I adore. But John M. Ford...he managed to do so much better than everyone else at so much of everything else that of course he had to write a "Star Trek" novel that not only was a fine novel, it transformed Klingons into a real culture of believable people. Plus it used physics as if it was actually physics.
5. "Alone Against Tomorrow" by Harlan Ellison. Harlan was my favorite writer for many, many years, and was my savior during my teens. This volume contains "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" and "'Repent, Harlequin!' said the Ticktockman", but also others not as famous. One of my mother's colleagues at ISU (Dr. Brian Attebury) told me once that Harlan was -- and I'm paraphrasing after many years so I'm getting this wrong -- an adolescent writer, or a writer for adolescents, but his intent was to disparage Harlan's lasting effect as a great writer. I didn't care. I think Harlan speaks beautifully to adolescents, and he certainly made those ugly years of constant uncertainty more livable for me.
6. "Watchmen" by Allan Moore and Dave Gibbons. One of the most beautifully crafted graphic novels, with art and story tightly coupled. I waited all year for each issue to come out, and the shock and delight with each new revelation thrilled me. Re-reading the first issue after reading the last -- oh, yes.
7. "Houston, Can You Read", collected in "Saul's Death and Other Peoms", by Joe Haldeman. Joe is an excellent poet, writing both free verse and structured poems with equal ease, and has studied poetry in a workshop at M.I.T. that he's written about quite a bit. This particular poem has stuck with me since I first read it. It's one of the very few villanelles I've read -- possibly one of the very few ever, given how annoying the form is -- that really works. As you know, Bob, a villanelle is written for someone who has died, or is about to. This was written for the space program.
8. "Impossible Things" by Connie Willis. This is a short story collection, by one of the best science fiction writers ever. Her stories are funny, romantic, poignant, clever, and will punch you in the gut in the last paragraph. This collection contains many of her award winners, though not "A Letter From the Clearys", which is one of my favorites. The ones included, though, have stuck with me since I read them.
9. "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson. I worked on WorldsAway in the early nineties, one of the first virtual worlds. Looking at it now, especially after a session playing World of Warcraft, the world seems depthless, flat. Still, for the time it was incredibly cool, and we thought we were creating the world that Neal Stephenson was describing. We weren't, but maybe someday someone will.
10. "Mother of Storms" by John Barnes. John Barnes' stories stick with me, but this one glued itself on. This is a novel of what happens when more energy is added to the Earth's weather system. You know, like if climate change was causing larger and more frequent hurricanes. Yeah. The John Barnes version, which was the scariest thing I'd read in this genre until I started seeing it on the news.

From beyond the grave

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Today LinkedIn sent me a list of people that they thought I might know and might want to connect with. The list was:

1. The reason I sued a previous company
2. A previous co-worker who has not accepted my connection request in the past, and whose current profile lists him as "on a break"
3. A dead friend
4. Another previous co-worker who has not accepted my connection request in the past.

My dead friend, Kath Lawrence, only listed having one connection. I on occasion would run across accounts belonging to dead friends. LJ will mark these accounts as closed, so no new comments can be added, but the journal can still be read. I thought it was creepy having LinkedIn invite me to connect with her, so I used their help system and sent them her wikipedia page that lists her death date (and the direct link to her LI account page). It was a little bit of a shock to see her on that list.

The LinkedIn help page also told me how to block someone so that he can't see my page and I won't see his showing up like this again. That took care of the first one.

And then I unsubscribed from all future LinkedIn updates.

Ask not for whom the ice weasels come...

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Chaz and I sold a story a couple of years ago to Gears and Levers 2: A Steampunk Anthology, namely "The Airship Towers of Trebizond" by Mr. and Mrs. Brenchley. I'm pleased to announce that those two are back in the upcoming anthology "Daughters of Frankenstein", with "The Ice Weasels of Trebizond".

I'm very excited by this anthology, as its made up of stories about lesbian mad scientists. It looks like it's going to be a blast, and I'm delighted we're going to be included in the fun. It comes out next summer.

Introduction by Steve Berman
"Infusion of Waking Dreams" by Aynjel Kaye
"Doubt the Sun" by Faith Mudge
"Meddling Kids" by Tracy Canfield
"Eldritch Brown Houses" by Claire Humphrey
"The Moorehead Maze Experiment" by Tim Lieder
"The Eggshell Curtain" by Romie Stott
“Poor Girl” by Traci Castleberry
“Bank Job Blues” by Melissa Scott
“The Long Trip Home” by A.J. Fitzwater
“Imaginary Beauties: A Lurid Melodrama” by Gemma Files
“The Riveter” by Sean Eads
“A Shallow Grave of Orange Peel and Eggshells” by Thoraiya Dyer
“Alraune” by Orrin Grey
“Preserving the Integrity of the Feminine Mystique” by Christine Morgan
“Hypatia and Her Sisters” by Amy Griswold
“The Lady of the House of Mirrors” by Rafaela F. Ferraz
“The Ice Weasels of Trebizond” by Mr and Mrs Brenchley
“Love in the Time of Markov Processes” by Megan Arkenberg

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Dating again

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It is convenient that I can go on a date on almost any day at almost any time, with the smartest and handsomest man I know. It's been a sorrow that my health has prevented me from doing much in this regard, even though people claim that marriage can stunt one's social life. Marriage has done the opposite, but my health, not such a help. Still, in the last few months I've improved tremendously, to the point that my husband and I (because who else would I date?) went to a movie the very day after we had heard about it and wanted to go to it. Yes, this is exciting.

We saw Chef last night, on a recommendation from a friend. Why yes, Chaz loved it, but I loved it, too. It's about a man who is a very good chef and a somewhat poor father, to a son whom he shares custody with, with a gorgeous and intelligent ex-wife. This is the story of how the chef becomes the chef he wants to be and the father he didn't know he could be, on a physical and metaphorical journey across country with friends and food. I highly recommend it. And if you're local, I discovered the theater at Santana Row has a discount on tickets for Tuesday nights, which is my favorite night to go to movies because it's the night that has the fewest movie patrons.

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Being completely beside myself

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We Are All Completely Beside OurselvesWe Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book was nominated for a Nebula award, but there was nothing science fictional or fantastic about it. And yet...and yet...

This novel is about families, and what makes a family, and what family members owe to one another. It's about what makes someone human, and inhuman, and inhumane. About seeking. About kindness.

It's one of the best books about meeting aliens I've ever read. I'm not surprised it was nominated for the Nebula.



View all my reviews

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Exciting publishing news

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Chaz has a collection of gay-themed ghost stories coming out, Bitter Waters. It's a fabulous collection; I know, because I chose all the stories for it, and I have an editor credit. (My first.) What's even more exciting? Publisher's Weekly reviewed "Bitter Waters", and gave it a starred review. Which is a huge big deal, because it means Publisher's Weekly thinks this book stands out and should be read. By a lot of people. If you don't want to read the whole review, here's a hint:

Brenchley charts the treacheries of the sea and the human heart in this haunting collection ... Deceptively light, allusive titles (“Junk Male,” “ ’Tis Pity He’s Ashore,” “Villainelle”) give away little of their stories’ knotty emotional depth. The discursive, sharply detailed style permits a remarkable control of tone ... This clever and subtle collection...

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My fortune for today

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You will be successful through innovation and determination.