Wednesday, March 14, 2018

What I'm Reading

It's almost spring break, which means -- you guessed it! -- more reading time!

Though we're also planning a trip to Crystal Bridges and also a hiking trip.

Here's what I've read lately:

John M. Barry, The Great Influenza

This is an excellent examination of both the terrible influenza that killed somewhere around fifty million people in 1918-1919, and of the doctors whose research helped stop the pandemic.

It's very methodical -- by which I mean it takes its time even getting to the pandemic -- but Barry tells us essentially everything. The information on the state of medical training / research at the end of the 19th and early 20th century is excellent; and the information about the pandemic itself is also very good.

Rivers Solomon, An Unkindness of Ghost

I saw this one recommended on many, many SF sites. My local public library did not have it, which made me slow to read it; but I finally bought a copy. The world-building and the characters here are quite good.

It's the tale of a generation ship, which has suffered a disaster, leaving the computer in charge of navigation. The surviving power structure has lapsed into a religion-based totalitarian regime; a class-based system has grown up, with those who work to maintain the ship being systemically oppressed by the "officers" of the ship. Further, radiation has had its effects on the crew of the ship, and the power structure uses mutations as a further excuse for oppression.

The main character, Aster, is autistic as well as highly gifted. She works to solve the mystery of the ship, and to resist the oppressive regime. Aster's character and voice pull us through the novel. The ending is weaker than the rest, but it's worth buying /reading.

Georgette Heyer, The Grand Sophy

I've seen Heyer recommended by about a million people over the past few decades.  For some reason I got the idea that she wrote flowery, over-wrought romances, so I never looked at her. But finally I picked this one up, from our public library. Good recs, all y'all who recommended her! Nice writing, wonderful ability to convey a place and time, great characters.

I'm hooked. Which is excellent, since Heyer wrote a ton of books, and our library seems to have most of them. This seems to be a good book to start with, by the way, if you too have never read Heyer.

Ian Mortimer, The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England

This one I stumbled on by accident, wandering around in the library. Time travel *and* Medieval England? Oh boy!

Set up like an actual travel guide, the book gives us information on medieval inns, food, social structure, clothing, health and hygiene, and half a dozen other aspects of life in the 14th century. I especially enjoyed the sections on the Black Death and the section on Chaucer.

More pictures would have been nice, but Mortimer is quite good at writing descriptively.

Nicola Griffith, Hild; Slow River

 I'd read Hild before, so this is a re-read of that. It's still excellent! Slow River is a very different book, a straight science fiction novel. (Hild is historical fiction.) In Slow River, our main character, Lore, comes from an hyper-wealthy family, one which has gotten its wealth through the invention and patenting of organisms, bacteria and such, which are being used to clean up the polluted landscape. Lore has the technical knowledge and training that goes along with her family business.

But through a series of events that I didn't quite believe, Lore ends up among the working class -- working as a low-paid tech in a water reclamation plant. The structure of the book is quite good, and the writing is excellent, and the world-building superb. I'm going to seek out more Griffith.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tuesday Links!

Rod Dreher is still a snowflake. See also this one. Apparently little girls in social justice teeshirts trigger you, if you're a modern conservative.

The fifth year reboot

Trump and Russia

Trump Tax-scam

Race Science is Bad Science

Cool story

Language evolving (H/T to the Kid, who sent me this one)

Our departmental printer does nothing but jam, so this felt like it was written for me

See also this:

This is, in fact, how Oregon always sounds to me when I read about it:

Plus I love this painting:

Monday, March 12, 2018


Poor me, I broke a tooth.

My teeth are pretty awful anyway, since I grew up in Louisiana, which (at least then) did not fluoridate its drinking water. So I got billions of cavities. Having so many fillings means my teeth are easy to break.

I'm going in tomorrow to have the break assessed. I'm expecting to need a crown. More money on medical costs, in other words.

On the other hand, I'm writing pretty steadily again. So that's good.

Next week is Spring Break, and the week after that, Passover begins on Friday. The kid will be home for both of these. Something to look forward to!

Here's some of their latest art:

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Writing and the Weather

The weather here in Arkansas has been all over the spectrum -- we have 80 degree days one day, and two days later it's 30 degrees and sleeting.

My favorite writing weather is snowy and cold. I bury myself in my writing chair under a giant duvet, drink coffee, and write. The cats sleep on my feet. The dog curls up on the sofa where he can keep an eye on me. The day rolls wonderfully on.

This winter, though, we had no snow, and no long stretches of cold weather. More than once, we've had to put the AC on at night in order to sleep -- this was in January and February. Plus, the lack of long cold stretches mean the bugs don't ever really die off.

Between this and the terrible flu and my new terrible schedule, I'm finding it hard to write productively.  I'm looking for a way to snap out of this slump.

One thing I'm trying is I now get do all my prep work and paperwork at school. This is easy to do, since I have three days on campus, most of which time is spent in my office -- not teaching, I mean. (I can't go home since Dr. Skull and I have only one car, and he's almost always at work on these days. He drops me off at 7:00 a.m. and picks me up at 4:00.)

Another thing I'm trying is to just write SOMETHING every day, even if it's just a paragraph.

I need more strategies, though.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Saturday Links

I am very nearly recovered from that horrible flu, but very nearly ain't 100%. All y'all stay well out there.

Have some links for your Saturday:

Probably only language nerds will love this as much as I do

I am too amused

Incorrect theories

Yet another way Trump is destroying the country

And here too

This is the new favorite argument from the alt.right -- and it's entirely incorrect, as anyone who knows anything about the Holocaust actually knows

Long read, but excellent, on why the alt.right racists are wrong about their IQ "science."

I can't stop laughing (NSFW):

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Crumbs from the Tax Scam

As I already noted, my big prize from Trump's yuuuuge tax cut for "middle class families" is just over $30/month, which will be eaten up by the increases in healthcare costs that resulted from his gutting of Obamacare.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

What I'm Reading

I had the flu (I'm almost over it), and I always read a lot when I'm sick, since I usually can't do much except that and sleep.

So I've plowed through more than the usual number of books lately. Some are re-reads -- re-reading for comfort when sick is also a habit of mine.

But here are the new books:

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Wow! BIG TAX BREAK! Thanks, Donald!

I've seen my first post-tax scam paycheck, and Donald Trump, our benevolent overlord, has saved me just over $30 dollars.

That's over $350/year!

What wealth! What riches! I'm definitely switching my vote to GOP over this!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Links for Your Friday

I'm down with the flu, and have been for about three days now (the past days are a blur). Today I feel a bit better, though I am still swaddled up in blankets and drinking hot tea. At least I'm not coughing non-stop, with bones that feel like hot iron.

Have some links:

Your go-to link when someone repeats the vile lie that "most" or "all" mass shooters are Democrats (I've seen this one several time, over the Right side of the net).

Gun-myths shot down

Rod Dreher is still unhinged

I was dying on President's Day, but this is interesting

I already mentioned this, but in case you missed it

And there's also this!

A wonderful FB thread

My kid introduced me to Pop Culture Detective -- if you don't know this series, and you like pop culture as much as I do, you'll love it too. Here's a sample:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review Live

My latest review, this one of Meg Elison's two books, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife and The Book of Etta, is now live over at Strange Horizons.

Three of the issues examined in this book—as well as in its sequel, The Book of Etta—are, first, the status of women in the post-apocalyptic world; and second, the question of whether and to what extent women should use violence to defend themselves; and finally, the subject of gender and identity.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Gwyneth Jones Talks about Fault Lines

Gwyneth Jones, one of the advance readers for my novel, Fault Lines, discussed it recently on her blog. I'm still dancing over her comments.

Kelly has been compared with C.J Cherryh, and I think deservedly. Fault Lines isn't burdened with the awful angst of Cherryh's greatest novel, Cyteen, but it has the same intensity and conviction.

More here.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Will Barnet

Our local museum is having a Will Barnet exhibit. We went by this morning.

Barnet is one of my favorite artists, and though this is a small exhibit -- it's a very small museum, sort of a tiny branch of Crystal Bridges -- it has some wonderful pieces.

If you live in the Fort, or nearby, don't miss it!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tuesday Links

Links for your Tuesday!

Bald eagle cam -- two chicks expected soon UPDATE: They hatched!

The Kid turned me on to Pop Culture Detective. Here, he explains Toxic Masculinity, which is a term a lot of fragile snowflake manboys seem to be confused about. (Sarcastic? Me? Sorry, but when you've spent as much time as I have coddling tender little man fee-fees, you'll snap too.)

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Kid Does Art

Right now in the Kid's Studio Art class they are working on a collage project. I don't think I ever wrote about the Kid's Troubles with Scissors, but when they were in preschool, their scissors skills were so inferior (who knew toddlers got graded on Scissor Skills?) that the teacher wanted us to have them evaluated by a neurologist.

Time-jump to 2018, and the Kid can cut with scissors now, but boy do they hate it.

On the other hand, I present the collages they have (so far) created:

Saturday, February 10, 2018

What I'm Reading

The weather continues cold here, and now today it's drizzling and foggy as well. If it were just a bit colder, we'd have snow, which would be lovely. Instead, the temperature hovers around the 35/40 degree mark, so that we're just miserable.

I've been drinking a lot of coffee, writing a little, and reading a lot.