Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Performative Reading


Ho, this is legit.

-- If you are a humanities professor, you say something that is clearly pleasure-reading, but at least vaguely cerebral. Witty mysteries about British academics are good, or the sort of science fiction that doesn't have aliens on the cover.

-- If you are a university administrator, you say that you are reading the university Common Reading book, or something by one of the writers who will be visiting for the Writers' Symposium in October. Either way, it is very interesting and you are enjoying it very much. 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Here's a Mystery


What is up with reliable scholars and otherwise intelligent people who cite The Daily Mail like it's a reliable source?

I mean, I don't expect everyone to understand how to evaluate evidence. But clearly someone who is educated should be able to do so. Surely someone who makes their living as a scholar should be able to do so.

Is this ignorance, or is it malicious? (Why not both!)

Friday, September 14, 2018

World Science Fiction


So I'm teaching a course in World Science Fiction next semester.

These are the books I'm making them buy:

Joanna Sinisalo, The Core of the Sun 
ISBN-13: 978-0802124647
Grove Press

Jo Walton, Thessaly (or The Just City) 
ISBN-13: 978-0765332660
Tor Books

Octavia Butler, Bloodchild 
ISBN-13:
 978-1583226988
Seven Stories Press

N.K. Jemisin, The Stone Sky 
ISBN-13: 978-0316229296
Orbit

In Other Lands, Sarah Rees Brennan
ISBN-13: 978-1618731203
Big Mouth House

The Other Half of the Sky, ed Athena Andreadis
ISBN-13: 978-1936460441
Candlemark & Gleam



I'm also having them read a couple of online manga/webcomics (not the entire series, just chapters) and showing them a couple of movies. The movies aren't decided yet, but I'm thinking Snowpiercer and Train to Busan might be among them.

Thoughts? I'm especially up for short story and movie reccs.



Tuesday, September 04, 2018

What I'm Reading


Being so sick for so long meant I had very little strength to do anything. Even watching media took too much out of me -- I could watch about half an episode of something like Brooklyn 99, for instance, and then I would be too exhausted to continue, and have to go lie down for awhile.

On the other hand, somehow reading wasn't exhausting at all. So I've read a lot over the past few weeks. These are the new books I read and finished. (I reread a lot of old books -- Connie Willis's Passage, for instance, which is excellent; and Middlemarch for about the 10th time, but I won't include those.)


Image result for helen dewitt the last samuraiHelen DeWitt, The Last Samurai

This is a re-issue of a book published originally in 2000, which I didn't know when I picked it up. It's pretty much nothing like the sort of book I usually like, since DeWitt is playing with form and voice and structure, while my usual favorite books are straight-ahead narratives.

But I highly recommend this one. Despite the structural games, DeWitt never loses the reader, and despite the somewhat standard plot (boy searching for his father), the book is never less than fascinating. This is accomplished mostly through voice, I think -- we really like DeWitt's two main characters, and we never get tired of listening to them. It's also a real page-turner. I was caught from the opening pages, and despite being too ill to walk across the room, stayed up very late both days that I was reading this.

It's a big fat book, too, so if you like long narratives, that's another plus.


Sinclair Lewis, The World So Wide, Cass Timberlane

These are two of Lewis's lesser novels, one of which I had never read entirely, and the other I had never read at all. They're typical later Lewis -- a bored upper middle-class man and his marital troubles. World So Wide takes us to Italy, and it's readable but nothing much happens. Cass Timberlane is about being married in the Midwest in 1940. It's the better book, but neither is Lewis at his best. Recommended only for enormous Sinclair Lewis fans.

Image result for mary robinette kowal the fated sky
Mary Robinette Kowal, The Fated Sky

This is the sequel to MRK's The Calculating Stars, which I liked a good deal. I expected to like this one even more, given the buzz around the interwebs about it, but in fact I didn't enjoy it nearly as much. MRK goes heavy on the science detail here, which isn't bad exactly, and probably some people will like it. Lots of  minute detail about what an astronaut would say to another astronaut while establish orbit, data like that.

It's not bad that all this detail is included, but it left less room for developing characters and scenes between the characters. I could have used more of that and less of the authentic detailing of astronaut business.

I'm hoping for a third book, though -- get us to Mars. Show us what settling the planet might be like.



Laurie King, Califia's Daughters

Image result for Laurie King Califia's daughters reviewLaurie King writes the Sherlock Holmes series I like, about the elderly Sherlock Holmes and his young woman partner, which starts with The Beekeeper's Apprentice. I do love that series, and if you haven't read it yet, it's so much fun.

This is an entirely different sort of book, and also a lot of fun -- though it gets grim in the middle, so be warned. It's about a post-apocalyptic world in which most men have died out, due to some sort of sex-linked virus. Women run the surviving world, and men are heavily protected (for their own good!). The main character is a young woman, Dian, who scouts and travels for her family, along with her pack of dogs. The best part is probably the relationship between Dian and these dogs. I'd read a sequel (there isn't one, sadly) just to spend more time with the dogs.

But it's also a great post-apocalyptic novel, for all y'all who (like me) love such things. Recommended!



John Varley, Irontown Blues

I love John Varley, especially his older books -- the stories and novels set in the Eight Worlds universe. So when this one showed up in my reccs, I bought it.

It's not a bad book. Very readable, as all Varley's books are. But it's just Steel Beach rehashed. Meh.


Monday, September 03, 2018

New Posts at Cooking with delagar


I've put up two new posts over at Cooking with delagar -- both of them student-level cheap meals.

Chicken gruel

Black beans

These are mainly for the Kid, who is living in their first apartment this semester, but all y'all who as broke as I am might like them too!

Labor Day Weekend


As I'm still recovering from that bout of illness, I'm pleased to have this long weekend.

By the way, if your stomach flu lasts longer than 24 hours, you should seek medical attention at once. #ThingsILearnedTooLate

I didn't go for over two weeks, because I'd always gotten better on my own before, so why wouldn't I this time? Also because my insurance deductible is so high, I hate to use my health insurance at all.

So by the time I finally went to the doctor,  I was so seriously dehydrated that I gave myself an acute kidney injury. It looks like I'm going to recover and my kidneys are also -- slowly -- beginning to recover. But it was a near thing.

For profit health care is the best. (Sarc, in case you were confused.)




Thursday, August 30, 2018

Rain


It's pouring rain here, with lots of thunder. This is the Arkansas weather I signed up for.

My health is much improved, and my appetite has come roaring back. God, it's good not to be queasy all the time.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Being Ill Not for the Weak


The antibiotics the doc put me on seem to be helping, but they have destroyed what little appetite I had left.

This, combined with having to drink first Gatorade and then Pedialyte, which are both really nasty, you will be interested to hear, means I'm having a hard time eating anything, even if it isn't nutritionally dense.

Also, I'm supposed to stay away from nutritionally dense things. "Simple carbs," the doc said. "No fiber. No dairy. Nothing that has a lot of fat. Not much protein. No sugar."

"Okay," I said, thinking through the sorts of things I eat, wondering what that left. "So... like rice?"

"Or mashed potatoes."

I'm thinking whether bagels would be simple carbs. But I've never eaten a bagel without cream cheese or at least butter.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Update Post


Y'all, I've been deathly ill for the past two weeks. I think I picked up food poisoning at a restaurant, eating vegetable tempura that wasn't cooked sufficiently, but who knows.

I tried to gut it out (pun intended), but yesterday finally gave in and went to see my doctor. (This was after I couldn't walk across the campus to my class without stopping to rest on the way.)

My bp when the nurse took it was 90/50. This is caused by dehydration, in case you're curious.

Now I'm on two different antibiotics and have been ordered to drink Gatorade. I don't know if you've ever had Gatorade. Bleck, is my evaluation. But I am drinking it.


Monday, August 13, 2018

Heh, yes


Shared by The Guardian:

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunday Links


Have some links for your Sunday!

This is great

So is this

This, OTOH, makes me want to kick things

Interesting though a bit gruesome

This is the future the liberals want

Why are black people still upset when slavery was over in 1865 I have no idea

I don't think this makes the argument the authors think it does

Banning burqas, or any other form of religious expression, is a terrible idea. Also it doesn't work. Also, don't @ me with your "but feminism!" argument because that is also bullshit.

Grammar purity is also bullshit

This, however, is beautiful

As is this

(Sample from last link:




Reaping What I've Sown


Since my recent illness, I've had trouble eating. The thought of food makes me queasy, which means I don't eat until I'm really hungry. And then once I've eaten, almost everything I eat makes me even more queasy. (I've stopped vomiting but it's still pretty unpleasant.)

So I've been looking for food I can eat that will keep me from being hungry and yet won't make me ill. So far cheese is the biggest win, but also perfectly ripe bananas work, as well as some (very bland) yogurts.

But you see the problem. This is a very limited diet. So I've been stalking the stores, searching for food I can eat which will also provide me with more nutritional benefit than my current diet (though bananas are pretty good, nutritionally).

But the point of this story: I've been using the term "nutritionally dense," which the Kid hates. "I need something nutritionally dense," I mutter as I wander the grocery. "I could probably eat oatmeal, but it's not very nutritionally dense."

"Nutritionally dense is a made up term," the Kid seethes. I actually got it from the Kid, who learned it in health class in high school. "It's bullshit."

"I can't live on cheese forever," I say. "It's just not nutritionally dense enough."

"It's a ridiculous term! It was invented to make us feel terrible about what we're eating!"

"Peanut butter is nutritionally dense," I say, "but bread makes me queasy. I guess I could just eat peanut butter on its own."

"It's a term invented by the patriarchy to oppress women and control our lives!"

At this point I began laughing.

"What?" the Kid demanded.

"That's a good one," I said. "Excellent technique."

"Oh, shut up."

"You know exactly the argument to use against me."

The Kid is grinning now too. "It's true, though. The patriarchy --"

"Okay, okay. How about we find some food I can eat that isn't cheese? How would that be?"

"You should try ginger tea," the Kid says, heading for the tea and coffee aisle. "Or maybe ginger ale."

"Those don't sound very nutritionally dense," I say, and the Kid rounds on me. I laugh. "Now I'm just fucking with you," I point out.

Life in the delagar household.





Saturday, August 11, 2018

My Kid and also a link


You should stop by this post at Nicole and Maggie's blog for two reasons.

One, their excellent links on what you can do (this is a frequent feature at their blog -- just saying). We often feel, or at least I often feel, helpless in the face of this much corruption and evil, and N&M give us do-able things we can do to help stop the destruction.

Two, the tweet from Merriam-Webster about the word genderqueer.

Here's a self-portrait from my genderqueer Kid to go with:


Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Attempting Discourse with Trump Supporters


After spending months at it now, I have reached the conclusion that it is useless to attempt an exchange of ideas with Trump supporters in the market place of ideas.

Here is what always happens:

Trump supporter: (Says something bizarre and obviously untrue, such as that schools in Oklahoma have banned the Pledge of Allegiance.)

Me: "I don't think that's true. I have several ex-students who teach in Oklahoma, and all their schools say the Pledge every morning."

Trump Supporter: "Well, I know it's true, because it happened at my friend's school! Where she teaches!"

Me: "What school is that?"

Trump supporter: "And it's happening everywhere, because LIBERALS hate the flag!"

Me: "Do you have examples of the places where it is happening? I've just done a google search, and I don't see any reports of anything like that happening any reliable media sources."

Trump supporter: "What do you consider reliable? The New York Times? LIBERAL BIAS!"

Me: "Do you have a reliable source that says this is happening in Oklahoma?"

Trump Supporter: "Why are you so ANGRY about this?"

Me: "You've given no evidence, except an anecdotal claim. Why should we believe this is true? Surely if this were actually happening, someone would be reporting on it somewhere."

Trump Supporter: "Why don't you give me evidence that it's NOT happening?"

Me: "I did. There's no media coverage. If all the schools in Oklahoma had banned the pledge, Fox News would be talking about it non-stop. You know that's true."

Trump Supporter: "I don't even watch Fox News! Stop condescending to me!"

Me: "You're repeating lies as if they were the truth, and getting other people to believe them. That's not okay."

Trump Supporter: "Don't call me a liar! Just like a liberal, always start insulting people when they're losing!"

And so on, endlessly. Trump supporters will never admit they're wrong, even when they obviously are. They will dismiss any evidence you give them as "liberal bias" or "liberal lies." And they will go straight to the "why are you so angry/mean/elitist" as soon as they start losing.

I'm an educator, and I have kept giving in to the urge to educate, certain that if I just present evidence and data in a reasonable way, learning can occur. People can change.

But Trump supporters dismiss any evidence or reason that contradicts their worldview. They are not using rational creatures. They are a cult.




Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Tuition Waiver


I went into school to turn in the tuition waiver for the Kid's fall semester. This is always such a hassle. I mean, it's absolutely worth it, since we get 40% off the tuition*. But jeez.

Every semester, there is some new required bit of paperwork. The required paperwork isn't actually listed on the form -- you don't find out exactly what you need until you try to turn in the paperwork, and then some apologetic human resources person says, Yes, you've got the waiver filled out correctly, and yes, you have the copy of your income tax form, showing this kid is actually your dependent, and yes, you have the enrollment confirmation, but this year we want (X) also!

So you have to go find that thing and make a second (sometimes a third, if the thing you find isn't the exact right thing) trip to file the paperwork.

It used to be just the waiver and the enrollment confirmation. Now it's like six different forms.

Still worth it, yes, but irksome.





*Nothing else, not the fees, not the room and board -- all of which are the most expensive part of a university education -- just 40% off the tuition itself. Still, this comes to almost $3000 saved per academic year, and that's not nothing.

Friday, August 03, 2018

The Kid's Apartment and Georgia O'Keefe


Today we moved the first part of the Kid's stuff into their new apartment. The second (bigger) haul goes up next week, when the Kid moves up to Fayetteville for the semester.

This is the exterior of the apartment, though you can't actually see the Kid's unit from this pic. They've got a top corner apartment, with big windows. Very nice.

After we moved the first load in, we went on up to Bentonville, to Crystal Bridges, to see the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit. This was several O'Keefe paintings and a couple sculptures by her, as well as a number of works by other contemporary artists.

One of my favorites was a collage by Mark Lewis, who is an artist from Tulsa. It just blew me away.

This is the collage, but believe me, this image does not do it justice. You have to see this one in person.


There was also this amazing collection by Cynthia Daignault, called Light Atlas. she drove across America, stopping every 25 miles to paint what she saw. These are small paintings, and just beautiful.




Again, this image does not do it justice.

If you can get to this exhibit, you should go. It's amazing.



Monday, July 30, 2018

Money money money


At the end of June, I got the first of the two checks I will get for teaching Summer I classes. This one was the larger one, and after taxes it was just over $3500. (The second check will be much smaller -- just under a thousand dollars.)

What have I done with my astounding wealth?

(1) Got the car fixed. We needed to replace two tires and the battery, and to fix a brake light which had been out for some time. We *ought* to have replaced the windshield, which has a pretty serious crack in it. But this will have to wait for some future windfall.

(2) Paid off two credit cards, the ones with small balances.

What we haven't done:

(1) Paid off the credit card with the larger balance -- a couple thousand dollars. (Medical bills and car repairs.)

(2) Gotten new glasses, which I desperately need.

(3) Fixed the dryer, which has been broken since early May. Dragging all the laundry to the laundromat is getting old fast, too.

(4) Paid off the remaining medical bills -- about $800 to my surgeon for my gut surgery, $300 to the Kid's doctor, $700 to the dentist from when I broke my tooth.

(5) Saved up enough money to move.  We would really, really, really like to move into a smaller, cheaper house closer to the university. But we'd need (probably) about a thousand dollars (maybe $1500) to pay deposits and first month's rent and hire a moving truck and so on. I'm starting to think we'll never have that kind of cash on hand. Ever.

We do have enough money to rent a truck to move the Kid up to FV, come Fall. So there's that.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Cat Picture


Here's a gratuitous picture of Jasper the cat for your viewing pleasure



What I'm Reading Now


I'm still in the four or five weeks between the end of Summer I and the start of Fall semester, so I have lots of time to read and write. It's bliss.

Here's what I've been reading lately:

Naomi Novik, Spinning Silver
Image result for spinning silver naomi novik
Naomi Novik, author of the Temeraire series, is one of the few fantasy writers I like to read. In 2016, she wrote the acclaimed Uprooted, which I liked a lot. So when I saw she was bringing out another fairy-tale based fantasy novel, I put it straight on my wish list.

As with all of Novik's books, this one is pretty wonderful. Great characters, great writing, a narrative drive that will keep you reading long after you should be in bed. It's (very loosely) based on the folk tale about the girl who can spin straw into gold; but it's really about these people in this culture. Novik is really good at bringing a culture and its people to life.

Here, the main characters are three women and their families; but all of them live at the borders of cultures, and deal with code switching and conflicts between those cultures throughout the novel -- not in a "poor me" kind of way, but in the way that people just do, who live in multiple cultures.

It's a very heteronormative book, which is the only reason I didn't recommend it to my Kid, because otherwise it is totally the kind of book they would like. Except no dragons or werewolves either. But lots of complex politics and complex people and a couple trashbaby prince or two. And so much snow.



Rachel Pearson, No Apparent Distress

I picked this one up browsing the new books at the library. It's non-fiction, written by a young doctor who got into the field because she wanted to help people who needed the most help -- the poorest among us. Pearson starts her story with an account of her own childhood, growing up in trailers and campgrounds while her father did day labor and her mother worked her way through college. She and her brother worked right alongside their parents, building the house they would eventually live in and the houses her father would rent to the working poor.

Her father's dream was for his kids to get to college -- to move into the upper middle class through education. Pearson started out want to be a writer, but her childhood, filled with days in which she had done things, made things, fixed things, led her to want a life in which she did that. So she ended up in medical school, and then working at what she thought would be a charity hospital in Texas.

Except even as she started at that job, the charity aspects of the hospital were vanishing. More and more, medicine in the USA was becoming a for-profit business.

That's what Pearson's book chronicles -- that change in how America does medicine, and what that change means for most of us.

This is a brilliant and very readable book. Pearson also includes her sources, which I like in a writer. If you care about medical care in the USA (and if you live here you should) this book is a must-read.



Charlotte Voiklis, Becoming Madeline

I like Madeline L'Engle a lot as a kid (who didn't?). In my early 20s, I discovered her adult books, and liked them too. I like her a little less these days. (She's a bit too eager to believe the worst of people she disagrees with, and has some of the flaws of a religious writer who hasn't ever examined her faith.) But she's still a sentimental favorite, and when I saw this one at my local library, I picked it up.

Written by her granddaughters and based on her letters and diaries, it's a biography of the early years of L'Engle's life. Don't look for deep insights here. It's a labor of obvious love, and thus very sweet and touching. Very readable too.

Recommended for fans, not scholars.


The Girl Who Stopped SwimmingJoshilyn Jackson, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

Another one I found on the new book shelf of my local library. I took this one home based on the first few pages, in which the main character wakes up to find a ghost in her bedroom. Not the usual ghost though! This is a new ghost.

Okay, I was sold.

Set in the South, and written by a Southerner, this one is pretty good on the inherent class issues Southern culture is so rife with. (Jackson doesn't touch racism at all, but I guess not every book about the South has to, even a book set in Alabama.) The fucked-up family stuff is really good, too, as is the ghost story.

Also, the main character is an artist, and her art form is quilts, which I really like.

And it's very readable.

There's a child death right at the start, so if that's too much for you, maybe stay away from this one.



Anne Tyler, Clock Dance

I used to like Anne Tyler a lot. Her Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant was one of my favorite books for a long time. And she is still very readable -- I read this one all in one sitting, for instance.

It's the story of a woman from the time she is ten until she is in her sixties. We drop into her life at ten year and then 20 year intervals, at the places in her life where she makes choices and so changes the direction of her life's course.

As I said, it's readable. It keeps your attention. But when you're done, you're left with a vague feeling of blandness. Meh, you think. That was okay, but so what?

I can't say what's wrong with these books, because really nothing is wrong exactly. It's just that nothing is really outstanding about them either.

Maybe that's it. They're about average people doing average things, making choices that lead to average lives. There's nothing wrong with that, but there's nothing all that interesting about it either.

On the other hand, that's what Anthony Trollope's books are about, essentially, and I really like his books. I don't know why Tyler's books leave me lukewarm and his fill me with satisfaction. It's a mystery.




Thursday, July 19, 2018

Geography


Here's a game I'd forgotten about, until a reader asked me to update a link which was dead. (Thanks!)

How well do you know geography?

Interestingly, it's Canada that's killing my score. It's so big, and I don't know where anything except Alberta is, really. :(


UPDATE: This seems to be the original game!  Thanks, D. Shannon!


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Kid


The Kid has been visiting their sweetie (the datefriend, as these kids today call it) for the past week. Today they are flying home, from PA to Fort Smith, via Detroit and then Atlanta. (My parents got the tickets with their Frequent Flyer miles -- we could never have afforded plane tickets, though we were considering a bus tickets for a time.)

The visit was a lovely success, the first time they and their sweetie got to meet IRL, though they've been dating for over a year, via Skype and Messenger and Twitter. (This is life in the future.) They hung out, watched movies, visited Gettysburg, ate together, lived together.

The Kid and their Sweetie Standing on a Monument at Gettysburg


And now the kid is flying home. This is the most anxiety-laden part for me. I mean, intellectually I know my kid is 20 years old and well able to navigate airports on their own. But some lizard part of my brain still consider this kid my tiny baby. My tiny baby, in a giant airport in Atlanta, trying to find the correct gate, all on their own! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

(I am, of course, fretting over nothing. They are doing fine, despite their slight phobia of escalators.)

I'll be glad when today is over however.



Friday, July 13, 2018

What I'm Reading


I'm done with teaching until August 20, so I'm writing a ton. Also reading more fiction than usual. (Whaaat!)

Some of it is re-reading old favorites. I'm not going to list those. I'm also not going to list the books I've started and tossed aside after 10 or 20 pages. There were a number of these, by the way. I'm just not interested in reading another book about another rich straight white guy (rich straight white woman) who is bored with their life or marriage or having a midlife crisis or whatever and in which nothing happens except we hear about their feelings. Oh, and they have sex with people. Author-insert sex, usually. Author-insert-creepy sex.

This is why most new fiction in the Literary genre is so bad. Young writers have stopped using plot. When you get rid of plot, what's left? Just your characters, mooning about feeling moody about their dull lives. And it's not that their lives are inherently dull -- it's just that you left out the plot.

I mean, take two of the best books written in the past 20 years: Richard Russo's Nobody's Fool and Kate Atkinson's Life After Life. Both of these are centered on mundane existence and on straight white people. Russo's Donald Sullivan is a 60 year old day-laborer in a small, dying town in upstate New York. Atkinson's Ursula Todd is the third child in an upper-middle-class family in pre-WWII and post-WWII England. Both books deal with the minutia of their lives. Both books are wonderful for two reasons: excellent writing, and a compelling plot.

Atkinson's plot is slightly speculative -- she imagines a world in which reincarnation is real, and then shows us Ursula's life, over and over (life after life). The plot bit is that it's the same life. That is, Ursula is always Ursula Todd, born on February 11, 1920, to this family, in this house, during this snowstorm. But after that, changes can and do occur. What happens when Ursula-the-soul begins to remember previous reincarnations? Especially with WWII hitting her and her family and her country square in the middle of her life?

Russo's plot is straight literary fiction. Sullivan is trying to make it through another year. He's damaged, both physically and psychically, and he's inflicted damage on those around him. But he lives in a community of people he cares about, and people who care about it. And we, the reader, come to care about him. We want him to make it through another year also. That's the plot. That's the entire plot. Can Sully make his life work? Can he help his son and grandson? Can the other main character, Miss Beryl, help Jane and Tina (shadow figures to Sully's son and grandson, the child and grandchild Sully won't claim)? Will the community of North Bath survive another year?

Just as George Eliot makes us care about Middlemarch and those who live in that community, Russo makes us care about North Bath and the fate of those who live in this community. That's his plot -- can they make it? We want to know, and so we read on.

I think this is why I like genre fiction more than what is being published in the genre called literary fiction these days. Those who write genre fiction know they're supposed to have a plot. Too many people writing "literary" fiction think they can just write "lush" or "intricate" prose and substitute that for plot. Bah.

Where was I?

Oh, right. What have I been reading?



Mary Robinette Kowal, The Calculating Stars

I almost skipped this one because our library didn't have a copy and I'm trying not to buy books because we need to buy new tires for the car soon. But then Amazon had it cheap on Kindle, and I went for it.

Very much worth it! This is an alternative history in which an asteroid hits Earth in 1952, just off the coast of Maryland, obliterating Washington, D.C., where both Houses were in session, and President Dewey and most of his entire cabinet were present. The highest ranking survivor is the Secretary of Agriculture -- which turns out to be a good thing, since having a President who understands the effect of weather on crops and thus on humanity becomes key to the survival of humanity.

This is definitely genre fiction, and the plot is central: the asteroid strike creates a crisis, and our main character (a "computer" for NACA, this time-line's version of NASA) is central to solving that crisis. She and her husband and their community of colleagues and friends work desperately to get the space program kicked into high gear in time to save the human race from the disaster the asteroid strike has caused.

Lots of math in this one, and lots of science. Very readable, though! And the characters are great.



Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

Also definitely genre fiction, this one is fantasy. I don't usually like fantasy much, but the Kid gave me this one and ordered me to read it. And the Kid is right! It's really good. I'm going to try not to give spoilers.

It's told from the point of view of a child, Jude, whose mother was romanced off into the land of the Fae. Fast-forward 17 years. The child is now on the cusp of adulthood, and the kingdom of the Fairies is having political issues.

I love books with political issues.

Jude wants to be a knight, which is something mortals can be but usually aren't. Her Faerie father can make this happen, if he wants to. He gives Jude ambiguous answers. Meanwhile, Jude and her two sisters (one is half-fae, the other mortal like Jude) are having trouble with their fae coevals, most of whom are royalty.

Plot abounds. Who is to be trusted and who is not? It's like a Tudor drama. Very much worth reading. But fair warning -- this is the first of a trilogy, and the next isn't out until January. Also, just as with Tudor England, we've got blood and abuse and intrigue everywhere in this one, so if you like your books without violence, maybe skip this one.


Ian Mortimer, The Time-Traveler's Guide to Restoration England 
Charlotte Gordon, Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley

I blogged about one of these already. They're both really good. Both of them I'm reading for research on this one tiny story I'm writing. But worth reading if you're interested in the period even if you're not writing a story about trickster time-travelers! Mortimer is good for his period details -- he's written several of these books -- and Gordon's analysis is excellent.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Dreams


So I had this terrible nightmare last night in which I'd had two children and I had both forgotten to love them and lost them.

These were very real children. I could draw you their pictures now, and in the dream they had names, though I can't remember their names now. I was very upset in the dream because I didn't love them -- I'd forgotten the part of parenting where I was supposed to bond with and fall in love with my children.

And then I realized I had no idea where they were. I couldn't remember if they were at a friend's house, or at school, or if they were visiting their grandparents, or what I had done with them.

Then I woke up in sheer terror and lay there for maybe a full minute, trying to remember where my children were, before I remembered I had one kid,who was in the very next room, sound asleep.

I think this is my new version of my anxiety dream. I used to have anxiety dreams in which I'd forgotten to attend a class all semester, and now it was time for the final, and once I became a professor, for awhile I was having dreams in which I'd forgotten to teach a class all semester and now it was time for the final. Now that the kid's 20, apparently I'm going to have dreams in which I've forgotten to raise kids all their lives and now it's time for the final.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Dinner


...by the way, was chicken piccata, a broccoli and cheese casserole, French bread, and a nice Sauvignon blanc.

No pics today, sadly.

Conversation at the delagar Household


Me: Hey, dadzo is making dinner tonight

The Kid: He better.

Me: Yeah, I told him how sad you were he didn't last night.

The Kid: Yeah.

Me: He's gonna make that broccoli cheese casserole.

The Kid: Oh, worm?

Me: ... ... ...

The Kid: You know what that means, right? Oh, worm?

Me: Yeah, no.

The Kid: (Big sigh)


We need a Duolingo for 21st Century English, y'all.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Reading for Research


For some time I've been thinking up a story about a family of time-travelers, and last week I finally started to write it. For reasons I won't get into here, part of the story involves an encounter with Mary Wollstonecraft.

When I reached that point in the story, I realized I needed to know more specifics about Wollstonecraft's life -- details, facts, how she would react to things my characters said.

No problem, I said. The library has a biography, and look here, Amazon has another that is cheap on Kindle. Couple of hours of quick reading, and back to work.

Three days later, I'm still reading. This is not so much because I need to learn more as because Wollstonecraft is fascinating. Also, one of the books, Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley, by Charlotte Gordon, is excellent. I knew a little about Mary Shelley and her life with Percy; and I knew a very little about Wollstonecraft's life (that she had written Vindication of the Rights of Women, and that she had died giving birth to Mary Shelley); but this book is a revelation.

What Gordon does is, via alternating chapters, contrast Wollstonecraft's life and writing careers with that of her daughter's, detailing the events that shape them, and how they react to and resist these events.

This is a long but excellent book. Unless you're an English professor, or interested in the Romantics or feminism, it might not be for you. If that's your jam, though, snap this one up.



Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Happy 4th


Happy 4th from mine to yours:



From left to right, the Kid, me, and Uncle Charger. Not pictured: Dr. Skull, who is taking the photograph.

Le Menu: smoked lamb, chicken cacciatore, grilled asparagus, peach ice cream, and French bread with butter or sauce. Choice of Ginger ale or regular ale. Peach ice cream with homemade Maraschino cherries (bottled with last year's cherry crop) for dessert.


Also!


The Year's Best Science Fiction: 35th Annual Collection is now available, with a certain story from our favorite author in the TOC.

(You can Look Inside to see me. I'm on page iv of the TOC.)

ETA: Watch out, apparently there's a glitch when you try to buy the Kindle version. You get the 5th Annual Collection instead. Maybe wait a few days?

Links for Your 4th





If you haven't seen this, you HAVE to see this



Grandmothers matter

Ortberg translates Sappho

Stonekettle

Fact v Opinion (I scored 100%, but then I better have)

It me

I know we're sick of Jordan Peterson, but...

Yes, we do have alternatives

D'aw:


Sunday, July 01, 2018

My Guilty Secret


I know I'm an English professor, but the minute I read in a review that someone's prose is "lush" or "ornate," I roll my eyes and cross that sucker off my list forever.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Cats Love Fault Lines


Cats love Fault Lines.

H/T to Heebie-Jeebie


Also to File 770, where Cats Sleep on SFF is a Thing.

This, on the other hand...


I don't even know what to say about this



UNACCOMPANIED:  Alone in America from Linda Freedman on Vimeo.


Something to Cheer Us Up


This is pretty wonderful:


(H/t https://tywkiwdbi.blogspot.com/ )

This Happens Literally All The Time


And it happened again today.

It usually happens on social media, but sometimes IRL as well.

We'll be talking, some man and I. It is (almost*) always a man, and always a white man, and always a straight white man. Not always a conservative man, either. Often enough, this is a progressive man, or at least he calls himself progressive.

We'll disagree about something.

Now according to the rules, you see, the rules of how woman and men discuss things, I am allowed to disagree with him. But I should tinkle with deferential laughter and cringe and duck my head and hedge everything I say with sweet little girl phrases like "don't you think" and "well, maybe" and "I don't know, I just wonder if" and "I'm just a ignorant little nuffin, but don't you think" and essentially make him feel like a big strong man who is graciously allowing me to be in this big boy intellectual conversation at all.

I stopped doing that particular dance when I was about 25, when I became a feminist. Now I just say what I mean, backing up what I mean with facts and evidence, as if I were a human being in the same way he is a human being.

Not all men by any means, but some men* interpret this as an attack.

These men interpret it as an attack on their manhood. "You're not doing your cause any favors by being such a bitch," one of them said.

Or, "It's women like you who cause men to hate feminists," another said.

I've always blogged under delagar, as all y'all know, and for years many people thought "delagar" was a man. Some people still do. Interestingly, I never got (and never get) reactions like this on those occasions.

I didn't used to believe in fragile masculinity. But these guys have been making such a case for it, it's hard to not to these days.






*Some women interpret it as an attack as well. These are women who think any sort of discussion is "arguing." They also think everything is an "opinion." So when someone points out that what they're saying is factually incorrect, well, that's me imposing my "opinion" over their "opinion" which is just rude.  How dare I claim that Trump has put children in cages? Their opinion is that he has not! My "opinion" that he has is no more valid than theirs! It's rude to say they're wrong!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Hot and Horrible


It's been miserably hot here over the past week -- close to 100 degrees every day, with a heat index of 107 or 108 each day -- and also I picked up some virus at school. Vomiting and aching while being hot and cranky is not a good mix.

The virus is gone, at least, though the heat is not. Weather guy says temperatures will stay near 100 for the foreseeable future. Bah.

Plus the political news continues awful. It's almost funny, in the bleakest, most horrific way, how one horrific thing after the next happens.

It's like slapstick disaster theater, if you see what I mean.

Or, you know, it would be funny, if it weren't happening to the country I live in and want to be proud of.

As it is, sweet Jesus. No wonder I projectile vomited for 12 hours straight. The wonder is we aren't all doing so.




Sunday, June 24, 2018

What I'm Reading


I've been teaching two summer classes, as I noted in the previous post, plus actually writing again (two short stories and I've started another Velocity novel) so my time for reading is limited; but nevertheless I persist!

Here's what I've read over the past month and half or so:

Jodi Taylor, The Chronicles of St. Mary's

I read a review of the first book in this series, Just One Damn Thing After Another, by James Nicholls over on his review site, which I recommend highly if you like SFF, by the way. It sounded like exactly my jam, a time travel series in an academic setting, with a woman main character. I bought the first one, and I was hooked.

These are indeed time travel novels, but also historical romances, but also comic novels, and also delightful. Hard to describe without spoilers, but if you want fiction that's not too stressful and also extremely addictive, this is for you. Also there are lots of them -- nine, with another due out soon, plus a book of short stories. Oh, boy!


Barry Unsworth, Mortality Play, The Quality of Mercy

These I read on the recommendation of Athena Andreadis, who mentioned them on Twitter on day -- or mentioned one of them. They're historical fiction, and very well done. The first is about a group of players who stumble into a murder mystery in a small town during the years after the Black Death; the second is about the men and women working to preserve and to fight against slavery in England.

Mortality Play also won the Booker Prize.

Books about complex moral questions are also totally my jam, and these are very well written. Highly recommended. My library only has these two, but I'm thinking of buying the others.


Charles Stross, Saturn's Children

For some reason, I never got around to reading Charles Stross. As I recall, I picked up one of his books (I forget which one) which was in the middle of a series, and couldn't really understand what was going on, put it down, and never picked up any of his books again.

This one, Saturn's Children, seems to be a stand alone, and is pretty good. It's far-future, in a universe in which all humanity has died out. Only the robots survive. They miss humans, who they were built to serve, but are carrying on.

The worldbuilding is great, and the robot characters are wonderful. This one is a lot of fun and also filled with ideas -- what science fiction was built to be. Highly recommended.

I might even give Stross's other work another chance. :D





Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Teaching Post


I've been teaching a "transitional" class this summer. Transitional is what we used to call remedial English back when I started this gig.

I've been teaching Comp pretty much non-stop for well over 25 years (I just did the math, and yes, well over), but I haven't taught remedial English since I was a Visiting Assistant Professor in Idaho. The university I taught at in North Carolina just didn't offer it -- though it needed it badly -- and when I started here in the Fort, all the remedial classes, which were called something else then (I can't remember what), were in separate department.

But a couple semesters go, that department was dissolved, and the Transitional classes became part of their departments -- transitional math with the math department, in other words, and Transitional College Writing with the English department.

All of which is a long way of saying that I am teaching remedial English for the first time in nearly 20 years, and liking it a great deal.

It may be because this is a summer class. All my students are either older students or immigrants. None of them are here because their parents signed them up for the class, in other words. They show up with the assignments done, ready to work. That's just so pleasant.

Also, despite the class, they are both engaged and fairly literate, if not uniformly well-read.

Mind you, some of them are also well-read. One of them quoted Plato at me today! It was great. We had a sidebar about The Republic together before returning to the less-engaging question of how to build an essay map.

Beyond all this, however, almost all of them are here to learn. When I told them that the arguments in their essays had to be supported with sources, and that those sources had to be valid sources, they took notes on what a valid source was. Not one of them turned in an essay with anything other than valid sources supporting their claims.

One of them explained to me that they'd had to change their topic. "I thought this," they said, "but when I tried to find valid sources to support it, I couldn't. So I knew it couldn't be supported. So I changed my thesis to this."

I just nodded seriously and told them they'd done a good job. But in my head?





Sunday, June 17, 2018

Pride Parade in NWA


We spent yesterday up in Fayetteville, at the Pride Parade (if you're LGBTQ in Arkansas, Fayetteville is your oasis).

It was the Kid's first Pride parade -- mine too. "Whaat?" the Kid said.

"Well, they're always in June," I said. "Obviously. And you know how I feel about summer."

"Oh, right." The Kid thought this over. "You must really love me."

But it was a wonderful parade. The Kid said they might happy-cry. I don't know if they did, but I'll admit I did, once or twice.

Before the parade, we walked up and down Dickson Street, admiring the crowd: sassy girls wearing rainbow flags like capes, lovely shirtless boys holding hands, tiny toddlers in rainbow tutus running through the crowd, stately grandmothers with canes and rainbow flowers in their hair, and so many dogs. The sole sour note was an Evangelical standing on wall with a bullhorn telling all these wonderful, happy, celebrating people they would burn in the fires of hell. The Kid flipped him off as we went past.

We stopped at the little grocery store where the Kid shops when school is in session, to buy bottles of water, and stayed inside there in the AC to drink them.

Then we went out again, and down the street to sit on the curb in the shade of a big tree and wait for the parade. Some of our friends and their kids found us there -- I'd been looking for them, sort of hopelessly, because the crowd was huge -- and we spent the ten or fifteen minutes before the parade started catching up.

Also still enjoying the crowd.  More dogs! More trans and gay and genderqueer and Lesbian people! A set of tiny redheaded twins in fairy-princess costumes! A tiny poodle in a rainbow tutu! A large man with an impressive beard wearing a shirt that said: TRUMP IS THE ONLY DICK I CANNOT HANDLE.

The parade itself began right on time. It was pretty wonderful.

The best parts, I think, were the UA-Pride organization, which the Kid has not yet been able to join, because their studio art class conflicted with it all last year; and the Socialists For LGBT Rights (there was a guy from the IWW there -- Dr. Skull shouted out to him something about Joe Hill, and made his day); and the local Jewish temple, Temple Shalom, marching in the parade.



Lots of religious groups marched, by the way -- not just the Jews! But obviously we were very pleased to see the temple there.

Also the atheists marched. That was nice too!


Also, two of my ex-students were in the parade. (That's not them above!)

All in all, a wonderful experience.



Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Review of The Enclave


My latest review is live at Strange Horizons.

This one is of Anne Charnock's award-winning novella, The Enclave, which is set in the same world as her novel, A Calculated Life, which I highly recommend.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Lift-Off!


More on Fault Lines from my publisher!

Fault Lines received terrific reviews in Publishers WeeklyBooklist, and from SF legend Gwyneth Jones and Ditmar award winner Tansy Rayner Roberts (and nabbed today’s spot at Scalzi’s Big Idea). Review excerpts:
In this fun, intrigue-laden space opera, // Jennings gives an intriguing glimpse of a much larger setting. // Fans of found family will love the portrayal of Velocity and her crew of scrappy underdogs. — Publishers Weekly
Kelly [Jennings] has been compared with C. J. Cherryh, and I think deservedly. Fault Lines isn’t burdened with the awful angst of Cherryh’s [] Cyteen, but it has the same intensity and conviction. — Gwyneth Jones, author of the Aleutian trilogy, winner of the World Fantasy, Clarke, Dick, and Tiptree awards
More political intrigue and gamesmanship than a standard space-battle story… // Solid world building, likable characters…nifty plot twists… — Craig Clark, Booklist 
A sharp, character-rich space opera packed with angry, capable women and attractive, vulnerable men. Jennings builds a large, politically complex world // but expresses this through an intimate slice… — Tansy Rayner Roberts, author of the Creature Court trilogy, winner of multiple Ditmar and WSFA Small Press awards
Fault Lines is available on Amazon, B&N, Kobo – and of course on our website, where buying the lovingly prepared trade paperback also brings along the full digital bundle (PDF, Epub and Mobi) . All C&G ebooks are DRM-free. As a reminder, it may take a couple of days post-launch for full linkage between print and digital versions on Amazon and B&N.
Come explore Fault Lines with us; sail the perilous skies of the Pirian/Combine ‘verse with genetic outlaws and hierarchy subverters!

Fault Lines? Big Idea?


Yes, you read that right -- my novel, Fault Lines, is today's Big Idea over on John Scalzi's blog, Whatever.

Go here to read all about it!




Also, you can buy my book!  AT LAST!


Thursday, June 07, 2018

Pre-Order Fault Lines!


You can pre-order my new novel, Fault Lines, on Kindle, or in a print version.

You can also get it from B&N, or from Kobo!


Big announcement coming on Monday, by the way!

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

New Recipe up at Cooking With Delagar


I used to make this entirely non-authentic stir-fry all the time when I was a grad student. Lately I've been making it with the Kid, because it's quick and cheap and tasty.

Have the recipe!

Monday, June 04, 2018

Your Last Week to Win!


Sign up to win my book! The Give-Away is in its last week!




Go here for more details!

(The book will debut on June 11 -- you can order it then! And don't worry! I'll be posting ALL THE LINKS!)

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Summer I


Summer teaching starts tomorrow. My Comp I class made -- hurrah! -- but my fiction writing class did not. However, I picked up a transition writing class, which doesn't have quite full enrollment (and so I won't quite be getting full pay for it), which means we'll have almost enough money to make it through the summer.

Also, I won't have to teach Summer II. That's five weeks off to write.

Boo-yah!

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Take My Poll!


So I'm doing research -- I'm sorry, make that "research" on the interwebs, trying to find out what most people would wish for if they could have one wish granted...

Holy smokes*, y'all, you would not believe the number of people who would wish for unlimited weed.

Meanwhile, go take my highly scientific poll over on the Twitter.




*Pun definitely intended

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Booklist likes my Book!


Aw, look!

Booklist likes Fault Lines!

Though it's not my debut novel. But otherwise!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Twenty-Five Years


Dr. Skull and I have been married for 25 years, as difficult as that is to believe. As I often tell my students, we didn't live together before we got married -- in fact, we didn't live together after we got married. He was working in LA and Georgia both before and after our marriage.

But in fact this isn't entirely true. I was in graduate school in Fayetteville, and when he was in town, which was often, we lived together. So we've really been together somewhat longer than 25 years.

Anyway! Here's what he gave me for our anniversary:



 It's a stained glass window that you hang up in an actual window. When the sun shines through it, it's very lovely.

He also gave me this little guy:

because I write SF, get it?

I have the best husband.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Podcast Galactic Suburbia


Galactic Suburbia podcast discusses Fault Lines (at the very end! Skip ahead to like the last seven or eight minutes if you just want to hear about my book).

https://galactisuburbia.podbean.com/e/episode-186-16-may-2018/

Friday, May 25, 2018

Summer School


As I noted in an earlier post, I'm teaching two classes (let's hope -- one hasn't made yet) this summer.

The Kid is also taking a class at my university this summer. This is for two reasons -- one, it's much cheaper to take a class here than up at the flagship U; and two, it's their math req, and taking it all by itself will allow them to focus just on math. They're much better at math than Dr. Skull and I are, but it's not their strongest subject.

Anyway! My point! Signing the Kid up for a class has let me see the mechanics of university life from the other side. While it's much easier than it was in our days, in that lots of it can be done sitting in your living room via your computer, rather than walking all over a miserably hot campus from building to building, it's still a heap of fiddle to collect and stick in the right slots -- transcripts, shot records, SS#, official # for high school, dates for same, official # for all universities attended, dates for same, ACT/SAT scores...

All to take a single summer class.

I can see why each bit of data is necessary, mind you. But I can also see why some prospective students, who don't understand the need for all this data, might give up and decide to work at the water park instead.


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Links!


It's two weeks until Summer I begins. I am probably teaching two classes in that semester -- madness! But (as always) we need the money.

Meanwhile I am writing and writing.

Here, have links!

Cool article on Homer and color words -- also touches on why translations are such a tangled web

Don't forget to sign up for the give-away of my novel!

Charles Murray is a terrible human being

Via TYWKIWDBI, why America is broken

NYTimes lets Jordan Peterson hang himself

Jessica Valenti on Peterson

For those of you who want to know even more about Jordan Peterson

See also this :

When the shooting stopped, Mr. Dixon said that friends told him that the gunman first entered an art classroom, said “Surprise!” and started shooting. The suspect’s ex-girlfriend was among the people shot in that classroom, he said.


Rod Dreher, of course, thinks school shootings are caused by access to the internet.

Also, Rod Dreher thinks you should get off his fucking lawn


I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing -- the causes are worth looking at though. (Hint: It's probably not bc Gen Whatevs is so selfish.)



Monday, May 14, 2018

Fault Lines Give-Away Promo


You know you've been waiting for it!

Now you can jump the line! Candlemark & Gleam is holding a May Giveaway of my new book, Fault Lines.

Go here for more details!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Dreaming


I had the best dream last night.

First, I got a $20,000 raise. Also it was rainy and grey outside -- my favorite weather. Then as we were driving home, we heard that the Paris Accords were working. Then I started getting texts and emails from everyone telling me my book was a best-seller.

Then -- and this was the best part of the dream, I even thought, inside the dream, this is like the best dream ever -- then, Donald Trump got impeached.

Happy Mother's Day, y'all.

May all your dreams come true!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Donald Glover / Childish Gambino


To be honest, I had lost track of Donald Glover after I quit watching Community, a comedy about a community college which, for its first three seasons, was quite good. (After that, it became quite terrible.) Donald Glover played Trey Barnes on the show.

He was also, apparently, in the Martian, so I probably saw him in that. But the Martin was so boring I remember almost nothing about it.

Then, as I'm sure most of you know, his video "This is America" dropped last week.

Whoa.

I'm not caught up, but Glover has apparently become (or at least come out) as a genius while my back was turned. I've just started watching his series Atlanta (brilliant), and I'm listening almost non-stop to his music.

Here's the video, in case you missed it, and some commentary on it.

The video:


Commentary:


More commentary -- this one's pretty good

This one might be my fav -- from the article:


“This is the thoughtful discussion of the place of violence in the American landscape and how guns are a perpetual and tragically necessary part of living in America,” says Touré. “I think it’s critical when [Gambino] says ‘I got strap, I have to carry it.’ He’s not bragging about having a gun, he’s like ‘I have to, this is America, this is the way things go here.’ The fact that he has to is really important to the message.”

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Links!


We're driving up to Fayetteville to fetch the kid home for the summer.

Have some links!


The end of this editorial is the most compelling bit -- the start, meh. I think we've given Kevin Williamson enough attention. He's another overrated white guy, who's been surviving on Wingnut Welfare. Time to send him on the Hate-Wing Lecture circuit where he belongs.

Amazing

IT ME!

Employment is up, wages ain't (at least for most of us)

At least one reason for the previous

Interesting, but I need more data

Trump supporter uses his free speech


Philosophy, man


For like all six of you who haven't seen this yet -- Donald Glover is a straight genius:



Wednesday, May 09, 2018

This is Why Internet

I'm learning French on Duolingo -- really just messing around, obviously. This is no way to really learn a language. Anyway, for the phrase "Comment vous appelez-vous?" I found these comments, which I had to share:

https://www.duolingo.com/WendlaGoodman
WendlaGoodman
  • 16
  • 9
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2

Alexander Hamilton. Je m'appelle Alexander Hamilton.

5
ReplyGive Lingot1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/VinegarII
VinegarII
  • 13
  • 9
  • 3

Je m'appelle Philip Je suis un poète J'ai écrit cette poème juste pour le montrer

0
ReplyGive Lingot5 months ago