Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Update

No real news this week. Working on stuff, but no major milestones hit.

Ah well. Slow weeks happen in this business.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

It Happened

I don't often post about politics, but yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States voted in a split decision to rule part of DOMA unconstitutional. (The part left in place was the part that stated that states do not have to recognize same sex marriages performed in other states - a completely unnecessary law as states have *always* had the right to decide what marriages to recognize within their borders).

This opens the door to federal benefits for legally married same sex couples. It does not change WHO can marry - that's been tossed back to the states. However, it extends hundreds of benefits to same sex couples that are legally married including joint tax filing, military benefits and immigration rights.

I think the tide may have turned. All we need to do now is...leave the conservatives alone. I've talked to a lot of same sex marriage opponents and while some of their concerns are either silly or deeply personal, there's one that's very real.

Will churches be sued for discrimination for refusing to perform same sex ceremonies?

That's a road we need to NOT go down. Marriage is a civil right, but freedom of religion is just as important - ours or other people's. The Catholic church has long refused to marry certain couples. In the grand scheme of things, some churches refusing to perform same sex ceremonies is not a problem, people. There are plenty of churches and Christian ministers that will do it.

Freedom of religion has to be for everyone and if we want freedom to marry the person of our choice we have to accept that these things have long been entwined in human society and not push our freedoms to the point where they damage those of other people. Even if we don't agree with them.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: The Queen of Hearts

Daniel Homan's The Queen of Hearts has an intriguing premise and concept. A dictator rules through use of a demon that marks and then hunts down anyone who kills - a society in which laws against murder can actually be enforced.

Even more intriguing, the book is set in a world with twentieth-century technology - cars, planes and electricity mingle with magic.

Here's the problem. Homan's work reads as if somebody told him it would be cool to set a secondary world, epic fantasy in a place with modern technology. I actually got halfway through the book before I even noticed there was technology. It has no bearing on the story other than a token "Let's flee in a car" scene. None. Instead of making use of the setting, it's pure window dressing.

The book is also written in present tense, which Homan almost pulls off. Almost. He doesn't do the job Suzanne Collins did (she managed to keep me from noticing for close to an entire book), but it's not bad. For people less inclined to have their teeth set on edge by present tense in general, it probably won't be a bad thing at all.

Oh, and it would have been better, a lot better, without the weird prologue. The story itself was interesting, but overall I found The Queen of Hearts better in its idea than its execution.

Three stars.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gliese 667C

Well. If we ever get an FTL probe, we need to send it to Gliese 667C stat. Seriously, what a crowded (and beautiful) system.

Can you imagine living on a world where there are habitable neighbors closer to you than Mars is to us?

THREE planets in a tight habitable zone around a cool star. Short years and rapid seasons...and neighbors in the sky. It's not impossible that all three worlds could evolve different sentient species. They could visit each other with the technology we have now. Maybe they would fight. Maybe they would work together. Most likely one would be followed by the other.

Besides. Really. How could one resist taking a proper look?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Looking for work

I always hate doing this, but I have room in my schedule for some proofreading/copyediting projects.

If anyone has a novel, RPG book, bunch of shorts, etc, that they want somebody to do a final eyes-over before publication, please let me know. I try to keep my prices reasonable, and I will work on anything (including non-fiction).

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Updates

Sold another story to Bards & Sages - a little horror tale called "Winter."

Worked on short stories mostly this week.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Why I Have Hope For The Economy

A quick note from last week's trip.

Our trip involved a 7 hour on the road (i.e., not counting stops) drive from Washington to Columbus, Ohio.

Why do I have hope?

Because I have never, ever, seen so many trucks sporting massive Drivers Wanted signs listing benefits and clearly trying to sell truckers on working for them. Oh, and at least one rest stop was also plastered with ads.

If goods are moving...then goods are moving.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: Shelf Life

I try not to be biased towards a book when I pick it up, but "Introduction by Neil Gaiman" caught my attention. I figured he wouldn't put his name on anything that wasn't good.

I was right. Of course, this anthology includes some names that would jump out anyway - Charles De Lint, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Jack Williamson, Gene Wolfe, Harlan Ellison... The book is actually a reprint, with an original copyright date of 2002, and this particular edition dated 2012. (Limited circulation? I'm not sure. I've certainly missed plenty of good anthologies over the years).

And this one is good. Long time bookstore owner Greg Ketter has put together a bunch of stories that celebrate bookstores in all of their glory and make me regret the fact that the only bookstore in the town I grew up in was a dreary W.H. Smith's. The bookstores in this work, though, are more than that. They're echoes of the archetypal bookstore. Some of them have cats ("The Hemingway Kittens," A.R. Morlan). Some contain books you'll never find anywhere else ("Ballard's Books," Gerald Houarner). Jack William's "Shakespeare & Co" takes you to a future dystopia in which books are forbidden. I really liked Nina Kiriki Hoffman's "Escapes" where the bookstore has, shall we say, a life of its own. I loved "Lost Books" by John J. Miller for reasons I can't reveal without spoilers.

All collections have their week points. I found "I am looking for a book..." by Patrick Weekes wearying and Rick Hautula's horror piece "Non Returnable" decidedly non-scary (horror, like humor, is subjective and your mileage might vary). Typically, I wasn't too keen on the Ellison story that closes out the book, but I didn't even really like "I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream," so that's to be understood and probably not the story's fault.

Overall, though, I'd like to thank Prime Books for getting this one back into print.

Four and a half stars.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cool Science Stuff

How about this little guy? I'd rather have a real cat, but that's a very cute little (cat-based) robot. That's fast on four legs because they based it off a...cheetah.

The Herschel space telescope has gone dark. Unfortunate, but there will be more cool space-based instruments in the future.

And another group of people are trying to phone Gliese 526. What will we do if somebody answers?

Monday, June 17, 2013


...I'm back. Had a great con. (Although, as it turns out, you now seem to have to have a table to even give out literature at Origins, which just feels a bit greedy to me. It's a great con, but has always had a bit of that vibe to it).

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Out of Town...

Tomorrow through Sunday, out of town at the Origins Game Expo to have a bit of fun. (I will have bookmarks, though. Packing some of them now).

Monday, June 10, 2013

Review: Future Lovecraft

I'm probably the wrong person to review this book - I've never really "done" Lovecraft. The heart of the problem is simple: The mythos doesn't scare me. I think part of it is that I'm so steeped in gamer culture, in which Cthulhu is more often a source of humor than fear (Maybe that's the only way to really deal with ultimate, alien evil).

If you want to scare me, don't wave tentacles in my direction. Point at a stone angel and yell "Don't Blink." That'll get me every time. So I'm not immune to monsters.

I do a lot better with non-mythos Lovecraft and, fortunately, there were quite a few non-mythos stories in this volume. Most of the stories editors Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles have chosen are short and there are a few poems. Lovecraft lends itself to being treated in poetry.

So, I found the mythos-based stories weaker, but that might be my personal bias. Some of them had the problem of being bleak, but not frightening or interesting and a couple left my suspension of disbelief at the door. Peter Rawlik's "In the Hall of the Yellow King" was definitely not one of my favorites...for just that reason. Lovecraftian horrors ruling the future doesn't work for me. What worked better was Ada Hoffman's "Harmony Among The Stars." That was actually one of my favorites.

The soviets on Mars story had the issue of feeling dated in the post Soviet world, but was very well done ("Trajectory of a Cursed Spirit" Meddy Ligner).

In all honesty - if you love Lovecraft, get it. There's some interesting material here. If you don't like Lovecraft, don't bother.

Three and a half stars.

(Review copy obtained at Balticon).

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Updates

Worked a fair bit on the RPG this week. We've set a tentative end of the month deadline for the current batch of edits and additions.

I'll be at Origins Game Expo next week, but not as a guest. I'll be on vacation (although if you corner me I might just find my way to give you a bookmark).

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Review: Running With The Pack

This Prime Book anthology provides a mixed pack of werewolf stories.

Judging by the cover, the book would appear to be female dominated - the female editor, Ekaterina Sedia, has chosen to highlight Laura Anne Gilman, Carrie Vaughn, and C.E. Murphy. The TOS does indeed skew female - out of 22 stories, only seven are written by men (including Mike Resnick, who's recent "fame" has been less than positive on the gender relations front). I doubt this was deliberate, though.

Highlights included "The Dire Wolf" by Genevieve Valentine (Can a werewolf and a human really love each other?). I also liked "Take Back The Night" by Lawrence Schimel, which was probably the most overtly feminist story in the batch. Mike Brotherton's "The Pack and the Pickup Artist" was highly amusing - I can't say why without spoilers, but it's a riff on something very classic in human relations. "Inside Out" (Erzebet Yellowboy) had an interesting variant on dealing with the curse of the werewolf, and whether it should be battled...or embraced.

The stories are overall good. I had the biggest problem with "Gestella" by Susan Palwick, and that's me: I can't stand second person. I wasn't too fond of Molly Tanzer's "In Sheep's Clothing," which read like a thinly disguised anti-Monsanto tract. "Are You A Vampire Or A Goblin?" by Geoffrey H. Goodwin made little sense to me.

Everything I haven't mentioned ranged from good to very good. Sedia is an award-winning editor and it showed. If there's a theme, it's the relationship between man and beast - be it internal or external (more than one of the stories are frankly romances). I've read better anthologies, but I did enjoy this one.

Four stars.

(Disclaimer: I picked up a free copy of this at Balticon)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


...we have the most advanced technology in the history of the world, right?

Maybe in some areas, but those Romans weren't stupid. They were the absolute masters of one particular art: Making concrete.

Their concrete was far more durable than any we make today. There's a 2,000 year old breakwater under the Med that's still in decent condition. On top of that, making concrete is responsible for 7% of industrial carbon dioxide.

I'm not going to go into details because I'd just be repeating this article, but we have finally worked out how they did it. In fact, that breakwater? The Romans had a way to make concrete that is made stronger by long-term exposure to seawater - how about using that to reinforce levees around New Orleans?

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why archaeology matters.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Okay, so...

The weather is finally about what it should be for the time of year - it actually feels almost like summer. And I'll take almost, given it's not 90 out there right now.

Got a ton of stuff I need to do on the RPG book, hopefully this week (but I can't promise anything). I'm not going to say how close we are except that I hope I'll be scheduling alpha testing with my victims before the end of the summer...I hope. Again, not guaranteed.

Oh, and I finally feel completely human again after all the sleep I didn't get at Balticon.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Star Trekking, Across The...

So, yes, it really did take me this long to find the time to see Into The Darkness.

My husband's comment summed it up: "I always thought Dreadnought! would make a good movie. So did J.J. Abrams."

Much of the plot did indeed seem to be cribbed from the Diane Carey novel, except intermingled with Wrath of Khan. This doesn't make it bad - and definitely answers the "But it's not Star Trek" criticism. I found that criticism...ridiculous. The movie is about weapons. It's about the inevitability of war. It's about human inability to let go of anything that might give us an edge in the fight...including Khan, who ends the movie in stasis with his crew.

The "young" crew (actually about the same age as the originals, actor-wise) were as good as ever. Especially Saldana, who has been really impressing me as an actor. Her tiff with Spock ("Do you guys have to do this now?") was absolutely awesome.

However, I did have a number of criticisms:

1. I don't mind fan service, but did we have to shot for shot the sequence in reverse? Anyone who's seen both this movie and Wrath of Khan knows what I mean. And because it was not only fan service but suffered from a Chekov's Assault Rifle foreshadowing situation there was absolutely no emotional tension in the scene at all.
2. If we could have that level of fan service, we might have had "Second star to the left and straight on until morning" in the perfect slot for it at the end of the movie.
3. The shot of the ships falling through the atmosphere? He stole it. From new Battlestar Galactica. Okay, it's a cool shot, but...
4. Abrams just does not seem to have any grasp of time and distance in space travel. A day to the Klingon homeworld? Long distance transporters? It's annoying because so much else is right - the Enterprise's maneuvering thrusters being distributed over the saucer surface was *exactly* how you'd need to do it to avoid damaging torque in a ship that size and I continue to love the Abrams engineering area.
5. Again, if we're going to have massive fan service done badly, how about paralyzing Pike instead of killing him?