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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

On LonCon and Thanks

I'm currently in Bristol after a long, exciting weekend at LonCon, resting up, seeing some touristy stuff, and generally dropping the weight from my shoulders.  Overall, this trip abroad has been beautiful.  I'll talk about some of that here (warning:  this will be more rambly and random than usual).

LonCon!
I still have a few days to look forward to in the big magic city, but my experience at the convention was overwhelmingly positive.  First, the LonCon staff put together a fantastic convention.  Though I could not attend every item I wanted to for all sorts of reasons, there were so many incredible panels this year, including a whole sub-track on World SF.  Clearly, the con runners heard all of the complaints and concerns about San Antonio (and previous cons) and took it to heart.  The international presence was phenomenal, in part served by the location (LONDON!) and by the smart programming staff who wanted to highlight the contributions of non-US/non-UK authors and fans.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Adventures in England: A Primer (Worldcon / LonCon3 Schedules and the Yorkshire Secession)

If you didn't know this already, I will be in the lovely country of England tomorrow morning.  There are two reasons for this.

First, I'm attending Worldcon / LonCon 3, partly because of the World SF Tour on The Skiffy and Fanty Show and partly because I happen to be nominated for a Hugo.

Second, I have been hard at work on the secession of Yorkshire from the United Kingdom with other like-minded individuals who believe in the necessity for the return of the Ormian Republic and its attending empire (the Yorkshire Empire, as it were).  I will be meeting with several leaders of the Yorkshire Secessionary Front and coordinating the process of land allocation and touristic public relations.

Only one of these things is true.  I'll let you guess.

In the event that the first is true, I should let you know that I may be on programming.  As such, my schedule would look like the following:

Sunday, June 29, 2014

My CONvergence Schedule!

If you're curious what I'll be up to at CONvergence this year, you're in luck because I've just dropped a not-quite-full schedule over on the Skiffy and Fanty Show blog!  The schedule will be updated later w/ other happenings; for now, enjoy the huge list of panels, some of which I'm actually on!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Link of the Week: John Chu’s “Stand Back! I’m Going To Quote Junot Díaz (Thinking about language)”

John Chu's recent post over at The Booksmugglers is a must read.  He talks about the difficulty of including foreign language in works of fiction and has some truly interesting things to say on the subject.

An excerpt:
Whereas listeners might reasonably experience that orchestration both ways, readers either understand a foreign language or they don’t. However, like how the orchestration of the Carousel Waltz must be compelling in either instrumentation, a story that makes use of dialect or foreign language must be compelling either way. Non-fluent readers must never feel as though something is missing but fluent readers must never feel as though anything is extraneous. 
Go on.  Read the whole thing.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mass Market Paperback Bingo #2: Pick a Book; I'll Read and Review It

I had a bit of an disaster today:  I got stuck in a thunderstorm, which resulted in my backpack, my notebooks, and my copy of Ink and Steel by Elizabeth Bear getting soaked through.  Since the Bear book is the one I'm supposed to be reading for MMPB Bingo, I've decided to temporarily jump ahead to the next shelf on the same bookcase (front row of books) so I can at least start reading something else while Ink and Steel dries out.

If you've not seen this before, here's how it works:
  1. You find a book in one of the images below that you'd like me to read (if you load the images on their own, they should be large enough to read everything without squinting).
  2. You leave a comment below telling me why you'd like me to read and review it.  There are no guidelines for this part.  You can say something silly.  You can be dead serious.  You can appeal to my corrupt side.  Doesn't matter.  I'll pick whichever comment sounds most appealing to me.
  3. I pick a winner, and then I read and review the book.
It's pretty straight forward, no?

So have at it.  Here are the images:

Book Review: RedDevil 4 by Eric C. Leuthardt

I didn't come to this novel with many expectations.  The cover description didn't exactly entice me, but I figured I could give it a shot to surprise me.  And surprise me it did.  This is by far my least favorite read of 2014 thus far, though the Hugo Award packet may offer a few surprises in the near future.  From the first chapter, I knew I would hate this book, and by page 100, I gave up because it showed no signs of improving.  If there's one good thing to say about having picked up RedDevil 4, it's that I learned never to read anything written by Douglas Preston or Steve Berry, both of whom provided cover blurbs; if Preston found anything here that "blew [his] mind," he clearly doesn't know a cliche when it smacks him repeatedly in the eyes.  And if Berry thought I'd "[savor] a peck into the psyche [and] one into the future as well," I'd just assume he doesn't know what words mean.

In short, this is going to be a mean review.  Prepare yourself.

Here's the cover description:

Monday, June 16, 2014

On Grit, Gore, and the Fantasy of Everyday Life in SF

I'm not going to re-hash old arguments about grimdark or gory fiction or whatever.  Originally, I had meant to respond to the question "can fiction be too gritty?"  I'm not convinced that fiction has limits in any standardized sense.  Some of us may not like gore or grit (or that grr feeling we get when an author kills a favorite character), but others do; the idea that fiction as a whole cannot have material for each of us on the basis of some arbitrary standard about what is "too much" seems preposterous to me.  You like gory fiction?  Great, here's a whole bunch of stuff just for you (says Fiction)!

I think the more interesting question is "why does grit bother some of us?"  There are a lot of ways to approach that question.  Take Game of Thrones as an obvious example.  (Spoilers ahead)