January, 2008

Hello, dear readers. I’m going start doing something new. I’m going to pull up my internet megaphone and recommend short stories I enjoy. I have occasionally posted lists of my favorite stories of the past year or so, but this will hopefully be more frequent, say once a month or whenever I happen to be struck by a very good story. I may recommend offline stories, but I’ll tend to skew to online available stuff, so that if I say “Yay, go read this,” you can respond by immediately doing so. Instant gratification.

For now I’ll call this feature: good short story, go read it.

And my first great short story, go read it for the year is Ekaterina Sedia’s “Zombie Lenin” from new print anthology Fantasy.

I loved it for its Russian flavor and all around weirdness. Let me know what you think.

Continue reading

Besides creating a forum where people of differing (or no) faiths can discuss Christianity and providing insightful theological and political commentary, I love slacktivist because he can come up with a phrase like “bibliolatrous babble“. Oh yeah.

Also, the Library of Congress has a flickr account. They’ve posted more than three thousand photos from their collection and are inviting users to submit tags and identifying information. I love living in the future.

Continue reading

In: links | Tags:

12 Jan 2008, by

Reading Rainbow

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the year, Volume 1 by Jonathan Strahan. (40) [specfic, anthology]. I checked a raft of anthologies out from the library and they’ve slowed my reading speed down considerably. I didn’t read Gaiman’s “How To Talk to Girls At Parties” because I’d read it so recently, but otherwise I read everything else in there. This volume started out strong and ended weak. I loved, loved, loved the Cory Doctorow story “I, Rowboat”. So clever and funny and even kind of heartbreaking. Just wonderful. I loved the term “uplifted” for sentient ais, with all its spiritual resonance. Great stuff. I really liked the Beagle story too, even though it was a little treacly. Very nicely done treacle, mind you. I also loved Klages’ “In The House Of The Seven Librarians” but I’m sure this surprises no one. A story about libraries? Sign me up! I liked the Christopher Rowe story, but. But my standards are too high, I guess. It wasn’t nearly as emotionally involving as “The Voluntary State” which I love to pieces and unfortunately for Rowe is my measure for him. So yeah, from anyone else that might have been a good story but I demand more, better from Rowe. I liked the Margo Lanagan story, and it had a hard row to hoe because usually stories about the afterlife make my eyes roll like a roly poly on a slide. “Incarnation Day” was awesome, and Walter Jon Williams isn’t a name that I associate with any other stories so he’ll go in my list of authors to keep my eyes peeled for. Benjamin Rosenbaum was twice represented in this volume, and I have loved several stories by him (most notably “Start The Clock” which is crammed full of cool), and I really liked “A Siege of Cranes” but “The House Beyond Your Sky” was just ok (I re-read it, even though I’d recently heard it on Escape Pod, because I wanted to see the words). Also, I will admit to being dissatisfied with the neatness of the final plot resolution in “A Siege of Cranes” but the rest of the world-building more than compensates. Still digging Jeffrey Ford’s style. He really works around my prejudices. I always start one of his stories thinking, “I won’t like this”, and always end up amazed at what he’s done. He’s a truly gifted storyteller, reminds me of R.A. Lafferty. “Cartesian Theater” by Robert Charles Wilson was very nice thank you more of this, please. Also acceptable were “Halfway House”, “Yellow Card Man” and “PolPot’s Beautiful Daughter (Fantasy)”. I have a confession to make about Jay Lake, though. I want to love his stories, and I only just like them ok. I haven’t found the Jay Lake story that has totally blown me away, pried open my head and turned it around. I think I want to like his stuff so much because he addresses politics, which I very much admire, but although I tap my foot to the rhythm of the story he’s never made me get up and dance. I read “Eight Episodes” again (even though I’d heard it on Escape Pod) and I didn’t like it any better the second time around. “Journey Into The Kingdom” had really good atmosphere (Rickert almost always conveys great atmospheres) but the story itself left me cold. Elizabeth Hand is still not working for me. There’s something fundamental about her short stories that comes off as distant and uninvolved and I can’t work around it. I always read her stuff, thinking “This will be the one that speaks to me”, but I haven’t yet found the one that does. It probably goes without saying that I loved the Kelly Link story, though I was seriously trouble by the word “Perfil”. I kept auto-translating it, and then telling myself it was probably meant to be accented on the first syllable in English, and saying it twenty different ways in my head. At every instance. Reader flaw, I’m sure. Loved the Connie Willis story to pieces, and surprised myself for loving it. Really fun reading. “Femaville 29”, “Sob in the Silence”, “The House Beyond Your Sky” and “The Djinn’s Wife” were the four closing stories, and – to me – they were all disappointments. Especially disappointing was the Gene Wolfe story, because I’m such a Gene Wolfe fangirl. Read in October 2007.

The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold. (41) [specfic]. From the library you came, to the library you returned. I love Bujold. I scarfed this one down over a couple of days. Such fun reading. And there’s an opening for more in the same world. Read in October 2007.

Year’s Best Fantasy 7 edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer. (42) [specfic, anthology]. From the library. The best story in this collection was, hands down, Laird Barron’s “Hallucigenia”. Man. That story has teeth, I tell you. Other very good selections were “The Osteomancer’s Son”, “Sea Air”, and “I’ll Give You My Word”. Somewhat uncertain of what it’s trying to tell me were “Yours, etc”, “Bea and her Bird Brother”, and “Christmas Witch”, though there was something to like in all of those and they were all well-executed. “Christmas Witch” in particular is a story I might like to re-read, and which has engaged me on a deeper level than some of Rickert’s other work. Utterly forgettable were “Four Fables”, the Moorcock story (was he this bad when I read him in high school and I just didn’t notice? I thought Elric was so cool.), and “Show Me Yours”. As to “Thin On the Ground” I want a moratorium on stories in which bad Spanish appears, especially in the mouths of supposedly native, spanish-speaking characters. I forgive Bradbury when he does it because we go way back, but no one else gets a pass. Poorly translated Spanish makes Anarkey cry, and no one wants a tearful Anarkey. Also in this volume, the award for story I was rewriting sentence by sentence as I read it goes to Sharon Shinn, whose “The Double-Edged Sword” had me wincing more often than engaged. “Ghost Mission” was superficially enjoyable if a little too heavily reliant on trope and stereotype to truly qualify as a “year’s best”. Stories that had moments but didn’t totally win me over: “The Lepidopterist”, “Build-a-Bear”, and “The Bonny Boy”. Finished in either late October or early November.

Jumper by Steven Gould. (43) [specfic, YA]. I acquired this secondhand. I have been meaning to read this book since I went to VP in 2005. I’m kind of glad I didn’t read it before I went. It’s got a driving and interesting plot, and the gimmick is cool enough (they’re making a movie about it now) but it tends a little toward wish-fulfillment for my tastes. I also thought the sentence level work left a lot to be desired. I’m on the fence about reading the sequel. Finished on 11/09/07.

Freedom’s Apprentice by Naomi Kritzer. (44) [specfic]. Just because you can see how the blocks are stacked, doesn’t mean it’s not fun when the tower tips over. This was engaging reading. I really liked how the series got more woman-centered as it progressed, too. Finished on 11/20/07.

Freedom’s Sisters by Naomi Kritzer. (45) [specfic]. Raced through this one. Lots of action. Satisfying conclusions. Possibly not high art, but definitely a good time. Finished on 11/21/07.

The October Country by Ray Bradbury. (46) [specfic, re-read]. I own a battered copy of this book which I bought secondhand. This took me forever to read, because I couldn’t remember all the stories, and there were some that were just dreadful. This time, I marked the TOC, so the next time I go through it I know which ones to skip (looking at you “The Next in Line” and “The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse” which only has title going for it). Yes, I’m finally over the don’t mark up books thing, I think. Finished on 11/22/07.

Babel-17 by Samuel Delany. (47) [specfic]. I own this book, bought it secondhand one day when I was trying to find Dhalgren in a used bookstore. Great deal of fun, but some of the plot seemed a little strange to me, like it didn’t quite hold together as much as it should have, especially the relationship aspect. A little literalist on the interpretation of Sapir-Whorf too, but that part was an interesting gedanken experiment. Finished late November or early December of 2007.

Planetes (all five volumes) by Makoto Yukimura. (48-52) [graphic novel, specfic]. We own these. I finally, finally got around to reading the whole Planetes series. I started off by re-reading the first book. This was a really good set of books with some wonderful moments and really interesting nitty gritty space travel stuff. Unfortunately, the work didn’t hold together for me as a whole, just in flashes and moments. The characters I was most interested in were less-developed than the characters that really bugged me and I had trouble with that. Still, definitely worth reading. Finished on 12/30/07

And that’s my booklist for 2007. I made it! 52 books this year! Although, to be fair, I panicked in the last week, and realized that Vellum was becoming a real slog for me, so I paused it and went for something I knew I could get through rather quickly. I wanted to make the goal. Was it cheating? Maybe, but I count it a win anyway.

I really thought, at one point, that I was going to be well above 52, but I blame my end of the year slowdown primarily on the anthologies. I read half of Dozois’ Year’s Best and that always takes me several weeks and then had to return it before I could finish it and count it on the list. Still, I’m halfway there for when I check it out again, so I gave myself a leg up this year. I also spent a lot of time reading online fiction for a couple weeks there, following up on recommendations I found in this thread about great short fiction. Sadly, most of what I tracked down to read wasn’t as great as I had hoped, or I had already read it. One standout gem from that list was Paul Tremblay’s “The Teacher“. The result of the conversation on that thread led me to the conclusion that this business of greatness overlaps a great deal with personal taste.

I’ve finished my first book of 2008, and it’s the aforementioned Vellum, but I think I’ll give it its own post a little later…and maybe even a mini-review. We shall see. That makes me already behind for 2008, since we’re in the second week, and I’ve only read one book so far.

Continue reading

So far I’ve only missed one day taking a photograph, I think. However, I’ve been slackerly about posting. Brace yourself for an avalanche of photos.

January 3, 2008:
Ganesh from Yoga Studio

I spend a lot of time in my yoga class looking at this statue of Ganesh. I thought there’d be very little, photographically, that I could share from yoga, but this is at least one thing. Now to come up with a writing thing to take pictures of. I’d wanted to get a picture of my daughter on her first day back to school, but I was thwarted by a dead battery so I got to the latter part of the day without a picture and then at my evening yoga class took this one.

January 4, 2008:
Sunrise on Bompart

Early wintry morning view from my porch. See, the streetlight is still on in the upper corner of the frame. I like the way the trees look, but if I had more picture taking skills, I’d have set up my shot so you didn’t see the streetlight. If I had photoshop skills, I’d erase the obnoxious telephone and electrical wires, though they do look kind of cool.

January 5, 2008:
Heart Sand Trinket

I’m animal sitting at a friend’s house, and she has this little trinket on her desk. Sophia suggested I take its picture. I wish I’d done something to better convey the granularity of the sand, but I’ve no idea what that something might be.

Bonus January 5, 2008:
Olive Asian Grocer

Saturday was errand day, and we were in search of a good wok to replace a dying one, so we took ourselves over to Olive (near where I had animal caretaking duties), with its myriad Asian markets and grocery stores. This particular store has the advantage of being both and Asian store and a Hispanic market so we got local tortillas plus a wok! It’s not much of a picture, true, but I’m pretty proud of it, because this sort of errand running is exactly the sort of place I’m least likely to bring my camera along and take pictures. I did feel a little awkward lugging it but was happy I did.

January 6, 2008:
Sergei's Grey Muzzle

In the past two years our dog has really begun to look old. He’ll be seven in March which isn’t too old, but his muzzle has gone white, and his tail is full of white as well. He’s a lot calmer than he used to be and I had no trouble getting him to sit still for the photograph. This is another day when I got to the end of the day and realized I hadn’t taken a picture. Thank goodness for pets and kids, because I can always snap a quick photo of them when all else fails. Uninspired, perhaps, but at least I touched the camera that day.

January 7, 2008:
Sophia in front of classroom

So finally I got the first day of school picture of my daughter, on only the third day of school! Notice the pink boots, which she loves, a gift from her Aunt Kelly. Alas, I am a person who is often behind marking milestones. For example, Sophia lost a tooth last year, right around Thanksgiving. First tooth she’s lost! Monumental moment! You’d have thought there’d be a blog post about it on her blog, right? Not yet, there hasn’t been.

January 8, 2008:
Anarkey's New Ipod

Another day where I got to the end of the day and realized I hadn’t taken a picture. Oh no, and my two most recent pictures were of my dog and my daughter! What to do? Well, there’s always the cats. Or, or, or…hmmm, something representative of my life and days lately. What could be good? I look around. I think. What have I been using daily? But of course. I have finally been catching up on my podcasts and it’s been wonderful.

I missed my first day on January 9. I’m not beating myself up over it because I went into this expecting to miss a day every now and again. I’m not expecting a literal 365. I just mean to get close, with occasional days off. Also, this year has 366 days, doesn’t it? He, he, he. I can still make it!

January 10, 2008:
The living Oregano

Ok, so here’s what I didn’t know about gardening, or more specifically, about oregano. I didn’t know that perennial, in the case of oregano, means it doesn’t die in the wintertime (in this zone, it may die elsewhere). I thought it was going to die off and come back, like the mint and the lemon balm. But there it is. Still green. Weird, huh?

Continue reading

I typed,”He’d written the algorhythm that compared the camera takes to the database headshots.”

“Wait,” says one of my brain hemispheres to the other, “Something’s not right about that word.”

“Which word?” asks the other hemisphere, now three sentences ahead, sentences that have not been typed because apparently the typing is controlled by the hung up on spelling hemisphere.

“That one. The rhythm word.”

“But rhythm is right. That’s how you spell it. Looks weird, I know, but it’s right. I’m positive. And it can’t be ‘algo’ that’s wrong. That’s totally basic spelling, no tricks there.”

“Something is WRONG, I tell you.”

“Ok, ok.”

Placate now or forever lose your next three sentences.

I flip to dashboard’s dictionary app and type ALGOR, happy yet again for its completion search.

Algorithm, it tells me.


“See?! I told you something was wrong!”

Heh. Brains are funny. Algorithm. But I still say Algorhythm is a cool word. It should apply to something. Algorhythm: a word looking for a meaning. Give it one today. Meanwhile, I have three more sentences to type.

Continue reading

This is the last day of vacation for my daughter, who goes back to school tomorrow. Today she had a blow pop, cherry flavored. She was delighted when I said her tongue had turned black and dismayed when it went back to normal color before she was able to show her father or her friends. Fortunately I took pictures, and she can show whomever she wants.

Sophia, black tongued

Sophia Blow Pop Profile

I suppose there may be some rule about doing one photograph a day for this project but here at Tempered Thoughts we scorn rules and do whatever we like. Some days you’ll get one picture, some days you’ll get none, some days you’ll get as many as I feel like posting. That’s right. And you’ll like it too.

Continue reading

Happy New Year!

For today’s trick, I’m giving you a photograph. With any luck it will be the first of many. I mean, not luck, perseverance! With any perseverance, then, it will be the first of many. I heard on the local radio show today that women are more likely to stick to their resolutions if they announce them. This year, I’m going to try Project 365, which means I intend to try and take one picture each day during 2008. The goal is to get better at taking pictures. I mean, granted, the new camera does make me look like I know what I’m doing. But I actually don’t know what I’m doing. Yet. But at the end of this year…364 pictures from now? I will. Seems simple, no?

Does this mean I’m going to be posting every day?

Ha. You’re funny.

I’ll try to get the pictures up two times a week. That’d still be more blog posts than you’ve been getting, right? And they’ll be posts with more than just blah blah blah words. Pictures! Action! Woohoo!

First Octagon Lid

Behold the hexagon lid. I got a new origami box book and I’ve been making boxes since Christmas. That there hexagon lid (base yet to be folded) is the single most complicated thing I’ve folded to date. Not bad, eh?

Also yoga. Also writing. The other things I mean to do this year. There I’ve told you. Keep me honest, right?

Happy New Year!

Continue reading

Powered by WordPress