beatrice_otter: Yuletide (Yuletide)
Finally have time to re-read canon for my Yuletide fic.  The things I didn't notice when I read it and loved it as a teen ... it has not, thank goodness, been visited by the Suck Fairy in the meantime, but it does have certain elements that have not aged well.  The two protagonists are wonderfully complex and nuanced women, but one of their mothers is ... well, not quite the stereotypical Evil (step)Mother/Evil Powerful Woman, about as close to it as you can get without being, you know, evil.  (Thankfully, she has a very small part in this book, and will be off-stage soon, to leave me to focus on the two awesome protagonists.)

And I'm only thirty pages in and I've gotten several reminders that, of course, beautiful women can't really have women friends because of course jealousy will ruin everything!  From my vague recollections that stops being A Thing pretty quickly, here, and I hope so, because it's really getting old.

Most of the book (so far) has aged very well.  It's just that thread that runs through this first bit before the Adventure starts that's really annoying me.  (Teenage me, being homely and geeky and having no clue and less interest in makeup and hair and styling, and thus having no clue about what Beautiful Women were actually like, probably just nodded solemnly and accepted it as Received Truth.)

ETA: Hah.  Just spotted a factual/cultural error.  In places with intense sun and heat, wearing long, loose garments that cover your skin but allow a breeze through can be better protection from the sun and even sometimes cooler than shorts and a tank top.  Someone who spent time in the Sahara Desert as a child should know this.

ETA2: The worldbuilding and eloquence of language is not quite as breathtaking as I remember it being, but it's still pretty darn good.  Funnily enough, while one of the heroes seemed so grown-up to me as a teen, she now seems ... a bit juvenile for her age.  Though that may be an artifact of the literary style of the era the book was written in.
beatrice_otter: Aim high--you may still miss the target, but at least you won't shoot your foot off. (Aim High)
From LMB's myspace:

Hi all --

The new Vorkosiverse book, henceforth to be titled CryoBurn, is finished and turned in to Baen.

To recap information mentioned previously, the story is an Auditorial investigation that takes place on a planet new to readers, called New Hope II or Kibou-daini. Miles is 39, to go by the very Miles-centered series chronology we've been using. The story uses three viewpoints: Miles, Roic, and a local lad named Jin. The general mode is mystery/thriller/technological-social exploration. About 103,000 words, in twenty chapters and an epilogue.

The book is, tentatively, on the Baen publication schedule for late 2010, probably November.

bests, Lois.

(And my I recommend, again, Edward Gorey's timeless little classic about the writing life, The Unstrung Harp, or, Mr Earbrass Writes a Novel. I nearly always pull it out to re-read toward the end of a book project. It gets funnier every year.)


Well, darn, now I'll have to reread them all to get ready for the new book! (I've been waiting years for this to come out. Sure, I love her Chalionverse books, but after reading the first of her Sharing Knife books, I never bothered to read the rest. But her Vorkosiverse books I cannot rec highly enough.)

Y'know, choosing from among my (many) vorkosiverse quote icons was difficult for this post.
beatrice_otter: Zachary Quinto's Spock (Spock)
So, I've been saying since the movie came out that if you want to understand Vulcans, you need to read Spock's World. And people have been replying that the books aren't canon, and I've been replying that Spock's World may not be technically canon but it's been influential for generations of fans and showrunners, but I lost the link to the main article (for reboot purposes) that mentions that, but it was sent to me again. Kurtzman and Orci consider the novels to be canon, particularly Spock's World and Best Destiny, both of which were very influential on them.

Here is a summary of Vulcan history interludes from that book.

beatrice_otter: Elizabeth Bennet reads (Reading)
And with 620 books accumulated by age 25, I think I'm well on my way, yes? Alas, [livejournal.com profile] jedibuttercup has been pushed to seventh on my "Members with your books" list. (This would be due to my rapid accumulation of theological works, which then makes my SF/F books a smaller part of my collection.)

Anyway, I'm also on LibraryThing's Early Reviewers list, where you can request certain books before they come out and if you're lucky you'll get a copy. If you write a review of it, your odds of getting more Early Reviewer books in the future are greatly increased. This month I snagged my first Early Reviewer book: Bikeman by Thomas F. Flynn. )
beatrice_otter: I don't want to be killed because of a typo.  It would be embarrassing. (Typo)
There are a great many books out there on writing (many of which are kinda useless or limited). Rather fewer books focus specifically on revising, yet it is the step that separates a good writer from a great one. Getting the Words Right is a good look at the subject, which I would recommend to any writers out there.

This public service message brought to you through the power of procrastination. I've got 2.5 weeks left to complete two projects, three papers, and a reading journal. And I don't want to do any of it.
beatrice_otter: Elizabeth Bennet reads (Reading)
I just realized that I haven't told you what books I have for classes this semester. So far, we haven't read anything I haven't enjoyed or found useful.

beatrice_otter: Elizabeth Bennet reads (Reading)
[livejournal.com profile] redbyrd_sgfic rocks. Not only is she a great author (and you should all check out her SG-1 fanfic), she just gave me a cool prezzie!

A while back I posted about this really cool website called LibraryThing. (Well, it's cool for bibliophiles and bookivores. Not so much for non-geeks.) It's an online catalog for your own personal library, and all you have to do is tell it the ISBN or LoC for each book! The first 200 books are free, after that it's either $10 a year for unlimited books or $25 for an unlimited lifetime membership. While this is undoubtedly a very cool website, I undoubtedly have more than 200 books, and no money to spend on something as frivolous as a book catalog (grad school, y'know).

[livejournal.com profile] redbyrd_sgfic understands just how deeply cool LibraryThing is, because she and her significant other have a much larger library than mine. (I am green with envy. Also over the fact that her library is, you know, all in one spot and not on two sides of the continent, with the majority on the other side from where I spend most of my time.) As a thank-you for passing the link along, she gave me a lifetime membership! Woo-hoo! Now I just have to drag the box of books I have here that I didn't catalog down from the storage area, and plot how to get the friend who turned me onto LibraryThing to let me borrow his Cat (barcode scanner) over Christmas so I can use it on the books I've got at home. (Because two bookcases full, plus odds and ends, is a lot to catalog. Even if all you have to do is type in the ISBNs.)

Speaking of cool things, the woman who is co-directing the seminary Children's Choir with me mentioned that she happens to have a lot of old hymnals sitting around that she's trying to get rid of. Well, gee, it so happens I collect old hymnals. Particularly if she's got multiple copies of them--I like four hymnals per copy, when possible, so that if necessary I can get a four-part harmony going. See, for me, sitting around a piano singing hymns in four-part harmony is a form of recreation. And you want a wide variety of stuff to sing, right? And a choice of harmonizations, because sometimes newer books have none (ELW, I'm looking at you) or really screwy ones (don't think I don't see you, LBW).
beatrice_otter: Elizabeth Bennet reads (Reading)
...And now I want a paid membership. They're only $25 for life, with unlimited books (which is why I want it), but no way in hell am I paying for something as frivolous as an unlimited online catalog of my books while I don't have a regular job. Sigh. You can see my catalog here. (Keep in mind this is only the books I have here at school--I have two bookcases full at home. And this isn't all the books I have at seminary--I have a box of old hymnals and sunday-school drama books up in the storage room.)

(Why, yes, I am a geek, how did you guess?)
beatrice_otter: Since no one is perfect, it follows that all great deeds have been accomplished out of imperfection. (Great)
Today was my first time on the wards, as we held services for the patients in the various buildings. They do two sets of services, Catholic and Protestant; I was observing the Catholic services (all chaplains have to do both--there isn't a priest on the chaplaincy staff, so the bring in wafers that have already been consecrated for communion). The first building we visited held maximum-security forensic wards; to get in to where the patients are, you have to go through several locked gates and doors, some of them little sally ports where you're enclosed in a small room or cage and can't open the door in front of you until the door behind you is closed. It's rather claustrophobic and intimidating; I can't imagine what it'd be like to live there. The second was much lower security, and had a much more cheerful atmosphere.

Services were not really what I was expecting. They're fairly compressed (around half an hour long). In addition, although the patients are mentally ill, not stupid, they're usually on medications that decrease their mental capability/focus/whatever as a side effect. Following services can be a challenge for them, as can maintaining appropriate behavior. All music comes from a CD player, and it's the contemporary folk-Catholic stuff I've never really gotten into. The chapels are small, plain, cramped, and just about as well-maintained as the rest of the facility.

But. Today was (for Catholics) the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Our Lord. The songs were communion songs, and one of them talked about grains of wheat being broken and one again in the bread, asking God for wholeness and unity in the same way. The music was nothing worth noting. But hearing such broken people sing about their brokenness and pray to Christ for healing was one of the most powerful worship experiences I've ever had.

On a related note, the first book we're required to read for class is called All Our Losses, All Our Griefs: Resources for Pastoral Care by Kenneth R. Mitchell and Herbert Anderson. It is aimed at pastors, but it is fundamentally an examination of loss and grief from psychological, sociological, and theological perspectives. I've found it to be very insightful and useful, and I highly recommend it for everyone regardless of creed or occupation; it is valuable to more than just pastors, and I think even non-Christians may find the psychological and sociological viewpoints quite useful. The copy I have now belongs to the hospital; I'm going to ask for a copy for my birthday.
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
Kevin Anderson Christopher Anvil David Brin
Eric Flint Alan Dean Foster David Drake
Dave Freer Brian Herbert LE Modesitt
C.L. Moore John Ringo Clifford Simak
Schmidt Mark Twain Van Vogt
Voltaire David Weber H.G. Wells


Where can you find all these great authors (and many, many more) in one place? Jim Baen's Universe, that's where!

As you may or may not know, Baen's Books is one of the best SF&F publishing houses out there. It's a medium-sized company that has a disproportionate number of the best authors around today, particularly if you limit the field to the 'harder' side of the SF genre. One of the things that got them where they are today is the ability and the willingness to take risks, and a firm belief in the merits of the Web.

A few months ago, they started a SF e-zine, with stories by some of the best names in science fiction. With none of the paper publishing costs, they can pay their writers more (i.e. enough to make it attractive even to Big Name Authors) and still have more stories per issue than a regular paper SF magazine. The goal for each issue is 120,000 words, about half again as much as you would find in a regular paper SF&F magazine. Here's how that is broken down:

Five science fiction stories
Four fantasy stories
Two serials
Three introducing slots (i.e. completely new authors getting their first break)
One classic story
One fact article
Three columns, two by Eric Flint and one "open" slot.
Each story has at least one new piece of artwork; some have as many as three.

There are six issues per year, and the cost is only $30 total. That's five bucks an issue, which is a pretty good price for that much stuff. (BTW, the first few issues are considerably larger than the amount shown here.) The first three issues are already available, with the fourth scheduled to go up in December. People with special needs (i.e. blind, severely handicapped, military on active duty, students, people in developing countries) will get a steep discount once they get the software tweaked to handle that; they're hoping that'll be done by the end of the year.

Folks, this magazine is running right now on a trial basis; if they're going to continue it, they need more subscriptions. I would be extremely disappointed to see this magazine fail because it's got some absolutely great stuff in it. So go out and pick yourself up a subscription, or buy one for a friend/loved one for Christmas! Or both! (Yes, this is a shameless advertisement. It's for a good cause.)

In addition to the fact that there's great stories and articles available for a very good price, short stories have always been extremely important to the SF&F genre. They provide a place for new authors to start out, hone their craft, and build an audience as professional writers before switching to the cut-throat world of novels, and they provide a place for Big Name Authors to experiment with new stuff without risking a full novel on it. But as everyone knows, the traditional genre magazines have been struggling for the past few decades. This is an effort to counteract that. If you love SF&F, if you love the written word, please help support this magazine! And spread the word!
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (omg)
... is an awesome book, and I highly recommend anyone with an interest in history or the navy to check it out. It's long, but it is well written and interesting. It's got enough detail for the serious historian, but it's not dry at all and should still be interesting to laymen. Among the interesting bits of trivia (and wouldn't this make a great alternate history novel?): Napolean wanted to be a navy officer, but he was sent to the French army college instead of their naval school because his family couldn't afford to send him to the navy. He wanted to be in the navy so much that he considered joining the British navy by going to their naval college. Can you imagine how much different the French Revolution and, well, all of 19th and 20th Century Western history would have been if he'd been a British naval officer instead of a French army officer? The mind boggles!

Book Recs

Apr. 23rd, 2006 07:12 pm
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
I just finished reading Boundary by Eric Flint and Ryk Spoor. It's a sci-fi story set about mid-21st century, with Bug-Eyed Monsters, trips to Mars, and paleontologists. Lots of fun. You can read the first half or so at The Fifth Imperium. As the book is now in stores, the snippets are in the Inactive Collection. It's really good, and I enjoyed it. It's not a Great Work of Literature, but it is a very fun read and it does have substance to it. For those of you Baen fans out there, here's a shocker:Spoiler )

For a classic that's fun to read, I'd suggest the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. They're a series of letters written by a demon to his nephew, full of advice on how to tempt the guy the nephew has been assigned to tempt. The book is snarky, interesting, and to teh point. If you don't see yourself in it somewhere, you're not looking. And it's fun to see things from the Devil's point of view, sometimes. I reread it regularly. Actually, I'd reccommend just about anything by C.S. Lewis. His novels are a lot of fun, and his theology is both interesting and accessible. (Not something one can always count on in theology or philosophy.)

I'm also reading Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which is a manual on how a Christian fellowship community should live. It's the first thing of his I've ever read (shocking for a Lutheran on her way to seminary, I know, but there you have it). Don't know if I'd reccommend it. It's very dry, and more theoretical than practical (which is odd for a manual on how to live together), and I'm not sure if I agree with all of his points. For those of you who have never heard of him, Bonhoeffer was perhaps the great Lutheran theologian of the 20th century. He was martyred by the Nazis on July 20th, 1944. His most famous work is The Cost of Discipleship.

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