Moving on up

Um, hi.
So, I honestly meant to start posting again once or twice a week, but, well, I suddenly got a wonderful new apartment. So I’ve been very, very busy with moving and decorating and working as much as I can to pay for everything.
It’s been a busy month for me, and not likely to let up just yet.
I will try to post more now that I’m somewhat settled in, but since I don’t have internet right now I have to either post from my phone or set my phone up as a Wi-Fi hotspot and post through it. Neither is very conductive to my usual method of writing. So posts will probably be few & far between for a while yet.
There are still book reviews I want to write, and many things in the news and life in general that I feel like discussing, so there will be more eventually.
In the meantime, I love my new home!

Book Review: The Martian, by Andy Weir

Once upon a time, there was a webcomic called Casey and Andy. Mad science, zany characters and lots of geekery, it was one of my favorites. I was sad, but satisfied, when it ended.

Then about a month ago Howard Taylor mentioned a hard sci-fi novel called The Martian, and that it was written by the same Andy Weir who once gave us Casey and Andy. I bought the book before I finished reading Howard’s post about it.

And it’s good.

Read the rest of this entry

Pain, anger, and cats.

This has had me in a funk since I learned about it this morning. Three of a friend’s cats have been attacked by someone with a pellet gun. Two of those cats used to hang out with me.

Veterinarians are expensive and time-consuming, so here’s a link to a page raising money to help.

I don’t have anything more to say, except to wish my love to the family.

Book Review! Hull Damage by Timothy J. Meyer

I picked up Hull Damage for Kindle free on Amazon. The current rating there is 3 & a half stars, and that feels about right to me. It has a lot going on, both for and against it.

The setting is sci-fi, it feels like a cross between Heavy Metal’s dystopian space settings and Firefly’s wild lawlessness, with a healthy dose of Star Wars. The book follows the career of a space pirate and his crew, an episodic story of the ups and downs they face trying to make a name for themselves. Read the rest of this entry

Writing exercises

So yesterday I picked up an app called “iDeas for writing”, (that’s how they capitalize it) and I’ve been playing with it from time to time all weekend. The concept is simple, it has several random generators for characters and story prompts, and then some exercises to stretch yourself with these tools.

I spent some time with it and a tablet of paper, and wrote a page inspired by a “first sentence” the app provided. Because I’m me, this short bit of creative writing required a nap to recover from.

So, here’s what I wrote.

The pirate thought about her again. She had been on his mind more than usual lately, singing in his dreams the way she used to sing in the kitchen.

He couldn’t really remember any of the songs she used to sing, but he could still hear her voice as clearly as his own.

He knew she would not be proud of the decisions he had made. But neither would she condemn him for them. He was sure about that.

The pirate shivered and tried to clear his head. She always came to mind right before a raid, since the very first one, but her memory haunted him more lately. He thought he knew why, too.

In the beginning there was little choice for him, trapped as he was between crime and starvation. He had done what was needed to survive. But things had changed since then.

His ill-gotten gains had built up to a tidy sum. It wasn’t the vast fortunes hoarded by pirates of legend, but it was enough. It was time.

Time for one last heist.

Time to retire.

That’s it. More a teaser than a story, but it was fun to make. I like the ambiguity of it, we know so little yet it still tells a story.

So there’s my ultra-short fiction for today. Maybe I’ll have more next weekend, who knows.
Next up, book reviews!

Hello blog, I’ve missed you.

Let me just blow the dust off, here.

If you’re wondering where I’ve been the past three months, I’ve been working 55 to 60 hour weeks. When you have as much trouble writing as I do, that doesn’t leave much time for blogging. But things have calmed down a bit now, so I should hopefully be able to post again from time to time.

If nothing else, there’s a lot of books I want to write about.

Speaking of books, here’s a cool thing! StoryBundle offers collections of books in epub format that you pay what you like for. The current offering is the “Epic Fantasy Bundle”, and it lasts for another ten days.

It really is epic, too! If you pay over $12 you get three bonus books. I paid $20, because I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my hard-earned overtime pay and frankly I often undertip.

The one I’m reading now is The Camelot Papers, which should win a prize for misleading cover art. I thought I’d be reading a farcical comedy, and while there are moments of dark humor, this really isn’t one. It is compelling, though, and so far I’ve enjoyed it. I’ll try to write up a proper review once I’m done with it.

Speaking of cool things, Evolution Expo is happening in Oakland this summer! It’s billed as “putting the science back into science fiction”, which is something I can get behind! I fully intend to attend, and you should too!

So, I’m back to writing again. No where near as often as 2012, but hopefully more than 2013. Coming soon, book reports and ultra-short fiction!

Doctor Who, 50 years later.

This should be subtitled, “In which I dump a stream of consciousness about my favorite TV show.”

I first discovered Doctor Who in the mid-1980′s. It aired on PBS Thursday nights, and we were about ten years behind so my first Doctor was a goofy bohemian with a bag of jelly babies and a ridiculously long scarf.

To this day, scarves feel uncomfortably short to me right up until they become awkwardly long.

So last Saturday, the 23rd, was the 50th anniversary of the show. It originally aired on that one day during which John F. Kennedy was dead and Lee Harvey Oswald still lived. The show’s been a major part of geek culture worldwide and British culture in general. The spaceship disguised as a police box is especially fun to me, because while police boxes would have been a fairly common sight in Britain in 1963, they’re now almost forgotten except for this show.

The fandom is one of my favorite parts of this show. Here is a comic-form story called The Ten Doctors (also available for download here), which is overflowing with little nods and continuity gags for long-time fans of the show. The author clearly knows the old show better than I do, he’s done several more Dr. Who fanfics, and just started his own 50th anniversary special titled The 23 Doctors!

There will be spoilers for the Day of the Doctor after the jump, but first a short film all Doctor Who fans should see, whether or not they’ve seen the 50th anniversary special yet. Androids and gentlebeings, I present to you Night of the Doctor.

I wish we’d had more of Paul McGann playing the Doctor on-screen, but if you like his portrayal of the Eighth Doctor you can hear him in many excellent audioplays by Big Finish Audio.

Read the rest of this entry

Transgender Day of Remembrance

tdor

And of course, many trans people are murdered.

Take care of each other, everyone. And remember.

 

We Are Here

Because yesterday was Carl Sagan’s birthday.

A weaker target

Got an email this morning from Courage Campaign, informing me that the people behind prop 8 are now attacking a law that attempts to protect trans kids from discrimination and bullying. My immediate reaction is that being no longer able to beat up gay adults with prop 8, they looked for a more vulnerable target and chose trans children.

The rationale given for opposing this anti-bullying measure is the old narrative that a trans woman is just a man in drag, so they’re trying to keep boys out of the girl’s locker rooms. Look, the social fallout for being a teenage boy who sneaks into the girl’s locker room is very slight, often effectively non-existent, while the consequences of being perceived as trans, or just not hetero-normative, start with bullying and go all the way to murder. You’re bravely defending the strong from the weak, here.

Anyway, mobile posts encourage me to be brief so I’ll sign off here. Take care!

insomnia

Can’t sleep. Guess spending most of the last month in a mild doze has taken up all the sleep for a while. I’ll have to get at least a little though, stuff to do tomorrow and I need to get something vaguely resembling a stable sleep cycle by next week. I know how to fix this, wine & philosophy. I even have some chocolate if things get desperate.

Here’s a thought that blows my mind. The universe is 13.7 billion years old, and 48 billion light years in diameter. This means that, averaging since the beginning of time, the distance between the far edges of the universe grows at nearly twice the speed of light. Yet no object can move faster than light relative to any other object.

What’s happening is that spacetime itself is expanding. This is a difficult concept to wrap my head around, and I’m still not sure I get it, so bear with me. The usual simile I’ve read is a balloon with dots on it. As the balloon inflates and expands, the dots spread farther apart. In the same way, galaxies spread farther apart as spacetime expands. In every direction at once. I’m starting to get a headache again.  Read the rest of this entry

Book Review! The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The title alone made me want to read this book. It also made me a little nervous, since a movie called The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies has demonstrated conclusively that a title can be more fun than the work itself, but never fear! This one happily lives up to its name.

The title also saves me the trouble of providing a plot summary. By and large you already have a pretty good idea what sorts of things happen in this story, a girl is taken to Fairyland and has adventures there. She meets strange people, encounters odd magic and weird rules. It has that surprising depth that you’ll find in all my favorite children’s books. The titular voyage itself takes up less of the story than I expected, happening near the end after most of the characters are well-established.  Read the rest of this entry

This morning I am awake.

After nearly a month sick, spending all my time coughing and catching sleep whenever I could, I finally feel like myself again this morning. Not like I should, not back to normal or anything, but at least like a person instead of a half-conscious mucus machine.

In a little while I’m going to take a long hot shower and then try to scrape off the beard that’s accumulated. Then I’ll do laundry, some housecleaning, more laundry, and a little banking. Just generally catching up on the things I’ve let slide while I didn’t feel up to doing anything more vigorous than napping, playing video games, and if I really felt like stretching myself, reading. Interestingly, I learned that reading takes more energy than playing Final Fantasy. Probably has to do with focus.

While I sipped coffee and read blogs in the predawn light I was struck by how much I missed writing. That I could miss writing at all amuses me, not too many years ago the idea would be almost unthinkable, but the depth of longing is astounding. Especially given how rare it is for me to feel that I’ve written something worth reading. I suppose there are times when the act of creation is more important that the result.

I have not fully recovered. I will still be taking antibiotics for several days yet. However I know that I’m over my illness because this morning I want to work.

Which is good, because cleaning up the mess my illness has left will be a hell of a job. The beard alone is going to be a serious undertaking! So one more cup of coffee, a little catching up on the news, and then the shower. And when I’m finished with the base chores, I am going to write something. I don’t know what, yet. Maybe I still won’t know when I sit down to begin. But something. Perhaps I’ll post it here.

In the meantime, have a good day everyone. With luck I’ll post here again before too long.

Creepy Jesus

David Silverman got this in the mail. I’m kinda hoping it’s a sick joke and not a genuine attempt at evangelism, because people with a twisted sense of humor scare me a lot less than people who think this would sway someone to do anything but get a restraining order.

creepy stalker jesus

I think I need a shower now. You’re welcome.

There’s a point at the fulcrum that does not move.

I suppose I’m still feeling introspective. I looked at the latest Zen Pencils and found a Sylvia Plath quote that I could deeply relate to. Go take a look at it.

I’m not familiar with the fig tree analogy, though, I usually heard about it as a hallway filled with doors, all open and filled with opportunity and just waiting for you to step through.

It always seemed appropriate to me, when I took it to its logical conclusion. You have all these doors, but you don’t really know what’s behind them until you step through. You don’t know what other doors may be through there, or what horrors may be hidden within that pleasant-looking room. You’re never sure how far you can go before you reach a dead end, and you can never be certain which doors will be locked while you’re exploring a particular room.  Read the rest of this entry

Writing from the Daily Prompt: Bookworms. Or, Recursive Writing About Writing.

One thing I would like to do more of is write about things other than what I’m doing or whatever news story or blog post has made me too angry to function. In theory the Daily Post’s writing prompts would be an excellent way to work on that, but in practice I tend to see them when I’m falling asleep or on a train or otherwise not eager to write. Last night I saw one that interested me & had the presence of mind to tweet about it, which means I had reminders this morning.

Something actually worked! I’m more excited about that than about the writing, to be honest. Anyway, here it is:

Grab the nearest book. Open it and go to the tenth word. Do a Google Image Search of the word. Write about what the image brings to mind.

I like the idea of using an image search, that was what made me want to do it so much. I’m also blogging this in real-time, so even if the result sucks I’ve already gotten a blog post out of it!  Read the rest of this entry

Book Review! Cold Days, by Jim Butcher

I’ve been waiting for what seemed like an eternity for the price of this book to come down enough for me to buy it. I actually paid a hair over my usual limit for ebook prices, but the Dresden Files have generally been good enough to warrant an extra six cents.

This one certainly was.

If you’ve been reading The Dresden Files, you already know whether you want to read this or not. If you haven’t, this is not a good book to start with. While it wouldn’t kill you to read them out of order, I don’t advise it. That said, the weakest books in the series (in my opinion, at least) are the first two, so I could understand someone starting with Grave Peril to see if they wanted to bother. 

Read the rest of this entry

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