Saturday, July 22, 2017

What I'm Reading Now

I've sent my novel edits off (the first round), but I'm still teaching two sections of comp, with a different prep for each. So I'm busier than usual.

Nevertheless! I'm reading and reading.

These are the books I've finished lately:

Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog; Blackout; All Clear

I'd read these before. The Great Book Arranging of Spring 2017 has led me into re-reading many books, simply because I found them again.

These are all part of Willis's time travel series. I love time travel, and I love when Connie Willis writes about it. Blackout and All Clear are probably her weakest books -- read Doomsday Book for her strongest -- but I still enjoyed reading them.

Blackout and All Clear are set in England during WWII, and mostly in London during the Blitz. Three historians travel back to observe various details, and get stranded. To Say Nothing of the Dog is a comic novel, and much better. Again, historians are time-travelling, but for a much different reason. This is both a romance and a mystery novel, as well as being SF.

They may well also be religious arguments. Willis is a Christian, and Jo Walton makes a compelling argument here. But if they're religious arguments, they're much better at it than (say) C. S. Lewis's hamfisted attempts are.

Terry Ryan, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

A non-fiction book, this is a narrative of the life of Evelyn Ryan, a Catholic woman who had ten children and an alcoholic, violent husband. Because he insists on being the sole breadwinner in the family, and yet nevertheless spends much of his paycheck on drinking, Evelyn ends up feeding, housing, and otherwise supporting her family through writing jingles and other bits for the contests which were popular during the time.

This is a well-told story, and does a good job of presenting Evelyn's character. Modern readers will be appalled, however, that (1) she never started using birth control and (b) she didn't ditch the wastrel of a husband.

Apparently there's a film version.

Brenda Cooper, Wilders

A dystopian / utopian SF novel. The story of a young girl who grows up in a Utopian city (or at least it's supposed to be utopian) who leaves that city to go outside its dome and find her sister, who is supposed to be working at "re-wilding" the country around the city, and may instead, or also, have joined a rebellion.

The city is Seacouver, a megaopolis made by combining Seattle and Vancouver. The setting is some time in the future, when climate change has done a great deal of damage. That's what the Wilders are doing, or supposed to be doing, mending a world destroyed by climate change.

Sadly, those funding their mission are the owners of the cities, and they're not funding the mission properly, being more interested in funding the cities and making their own lives luxurious.

The first half of this is better than the second half, which loses some energy.

Robert Heinlein, To Sail Beyond the Sunset

This is one of Heinlein's last books, and oh boy does it show. It concerns the life of Maureen Johnson, who is mother to Heinlein's favorite character, Lazarus Long. There is also time travel.

But mostly there is sex, and not good sex either. Creepy, creepy sex. The worst is probably the mother-son, father-daughter incest, but almost all of the sex in this book feels sleazy, not to mention unlikely.

There's also a lot of Heinlein climbing onto his soapbox, lecturing the reader about who should earn the money that supports a family, and how children should be raised, and why American jingoistic patriotism is justified (as well as some bullshit about various American wars), and how a Real Man behaves, and why those kids today wrecked America, fap fap fap.

The soapbox lectures are annoying, but it's the fact that Heinlein couldn't keep his kink to himself that wrecks this one.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


I've been living on tabouli for the past few weeks. It's too hot here to actually cook, plus the tomatoes from my little garden are all coming ripe.

Here's the recipe I'm using now: Tabouli.

Also, a recipe for red sauce.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Fault Lines

 From Candlemark & Gleam:

Velocity Wrachant, owner and captain of the merchant starship Susan Calvin, is broke and stranded on a Drift station, when she is offered what seems like a simple job: to escort young Brontë Ikeda into Republic space and help her retrieve several bonded-labor children.

While Velocity is tempted by the fee Brontë offers – which is enough to clear her debts – she also knows that Ikeda House, a powerful Combine, just had a major coup; and both she and her crew suspect the story they’re being told by the Combine child is not the whole story.

Velocity takes the gig, but it takes her into the heart of Combine territory, a place she fled almost twenty years earlier. What is the price she and her shipmates may end up paying for this job?
More here.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

July? Again?

There are only two things I like about July.

(1) Homegrown tomatoes

(2) In less than 12 weeks, it will be fall

Today we have a temperature in the 90's and a humidity in the 60's and all I want to do is drink seltzer and mope.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

What I'm Reading Now

Since I had revisions of my novel and am teaching two classes in Summer II, my reading rate has dropped off just a bit. Also my physician gave me some Valium for my anxiety, which has helped so much.

But! Not much Valium -- just enough to use when the anxiety is the worst. So I'm still self-medicating with excessive novel reading.

Here's what I've read over the past week or so:

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


I've started teaching Summer II. One class meets at 8:00 a.m. and the other at 10.20. They're two different comp classes (Comp I and Comp II), which means I'm doing two different preps.

I'm busy, is what I'm saying, and also exhausted, since in order to teach at 8:00 I have to be awake by 6:00. And even though I mean to go to sleep at 10:00 p.m. like a sane person, every single night I look up from what I'm working on (usually writing fiction by then) to find that somehow we have skipped straight from 7:00 p.m. to midnight.

Friday, July 07, 2017

DIY Dryer Repair

Inspired by a post at Nicole & Maggie's blog, I took apart my dryer venting system yesterday, using a vacuum and leaf-blower to clear (what I hope is) all the lint out of both the internal and external venting line.

The W/D hookups in our current house are the worst ever. Originally, this house (built I think in the mid-1960s) had no hookups. At some point, one of the previous owners added a laundry space. But rather than locating it, sensibly, against an exterior wall, they located the laundry room (really a closet) in the middle of the house. Thus, our vent line has to travel about sixteen feet underground -- yes, they dug an underground line, under the house's slab -- to emerge in a dug-out hole exactly where the AC vents its water.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Here Comes the Dragon

In the kid's comic, Fragile, the dragon has arrived. (The dragon is the best.)

Remember, you can support our young artist on Patreon for as little as a dollar a month!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

I'm Not Blushing...

I swear I don't know Leslie Gornstein. OTOH, she obviously has excellent taste in short fiction:

Monday, July 03, 2017

Yes, This is the REAL Problem

Trump's EPA administrator is axing rules against dumping toxic chemicals in our environment, Trump's Secretary of Education is bent on destroying public schools, the GOP-dominated Congress is destroying Medicaid, and Trump himself has pulled us out of the Paris Accords -- but this is the real threat to America's children.

Seriously, how much of a wanker do you need to be to write a post like this?

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Saturday Links

Still working on the novel revisions. Have some links!

I like this LJ post on Being Jewish

What it would take to replace the government-backed social safety net with private charity