Friday, October 26, 2007

The Game Plan

This is just a statement of goals and purpose for this blog and my reading/writing agenda.

The biggest thing looming is National Novel Writing Month in November. I have a plan for an as yet untitled fantasy/horror novel, so I am going with that.

I want to continue reading, with a focus on fantasy. The Thomas Covenant books are a high priority. It is way past time, and it seems like they are going to be essential reading if I want the Neverwoods novel to be all it can be. That means posts here may be more infrequent, as my reading slows a bit. However, I plan to blog my writing progress for nanowrimo, so we'll see.

December is dedicated to playing games with Mechelle, reading and hopefully a music project with my buddy Sean.

After the holidays, I want to finish Demons of the Neverwoods by my birthday in March. Then I would like to spend several months editing the three novels I will have completed by then and get them ready for an agent hunt before nanowrimo 08. I figure 2 months each to edit, at least for a decent draft I can let others read.

Sounds like a plan.

His Majesty's Dragon

I was thrilled recently when Audible got the unabridged versions of Naomi Novik's Temeraire novels. I eagerly picked up the first book, His Majesty's Dragon, having heard an interview with the author on the Dragon Page Podcast. At first I was very jealous of how "easily" she has achieved success, but the books sounded so intriguing. I am a big fan of the Sharpe books by Bernard Cornwell, and the addition of dragons to the Napoleonic wars had me hooked.

This book was everything I hoped it would be and more. It just kicked ass. OMG, I can't even express how much. I loved it. I haven't been able to start anything new and I am sorely tempted to get the second book even before my Audible subscription rolls over in November.

If you like Dragons and a bit of history and don't have anything against military fiction, this book will rock you. The dragons are so cool and detailed. The hero is complex, honorable and flawed without being an anti-hero.

Loved it. Highly recommended.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Universe: The Rest of Your Life in a Day

A few days ago, I read The Rest of Your Life in a Day by Elizabeth Bear.

This was a really interesting story about magic and the fae in the modern world. I haven't checked the word count, but this story had the depth and density of a novel. The relationship between the brothers was believable. I did wonder what the point was a few times before the final conflict developed, but the details of the characters' lives and the ceremony kept my interest.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Though I have not yet mentioned Pseudopod here before, it is one of my favorite podcasts. It is the sister podcast to Escape Pod, but for horror stories. For some reason, I do not listen to PD as regularly as EP, though I truly enjoy horror. I think it is because horror requires a certain frame of mind. I am glad Psudopod is there when I am ready for it.

Recently I listened to a few Pseudopod stories. I'm going to log them here and try to catch up with the podcast soon.

Psuedopod 046: The Hanging at Christmas Bridge by David E. Hilton
An interesting story of a haunted bridge, a man, and his car. The characterization here was very good. Also, I liked the way the author feinted and kept the reader in suspense about who exactly would end up hanging from the bridge. Suprise twist at the end. An enjoyable listen.

Pseudopod 047: Akropolis by Matt Wallace
This story kicked ass. It has this Lovecraftian aura of sublime and evil power from beyond, as well as a gigantic scope and a twist at the end. Awesome.

Pseudopod 048: The Disciple by David Barr Kirtley
This guy is becoming one of my favorite short story writers, though this one is not my favorite of his. It is still a good spooky story about a man who is driven by his own losses and sense of mediocrity to pursue powers that "man was not meant to meddle in." Great twist at the end. Excellent buildup and homage to Lovecraft.

Pseudopod 049: Big Boy by Ron McGillvray
This is an interesting take on a zombie story, from the point of view of a nine year old boy. Very well done from that point of view. Chilling and tense. There's a lot of horror here, though I think the author pulled back a bit. Zombie children anyone? But not here, though the adult things going on in the background were nicely handled, as well as the friendship between the little boy and one of his friends.

Pseudopod 053: The Apple Tree Man by Joel Arnold
This story throws a feint at being a supernatural horror story, but the real horror is all real. It is a very interesting technique. The narrator is haunted by guilt in the form of hallucinatory encounters with apples. Tales of the "Apple Tree Man" give a creepy feeling to the setting, mostly an apple orchard. But the violence is all about keeping a secret.

Escape Pod 127: Results

I'm running a bit behind on blog entries.

Last week's Escape Pod was the story "Results" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

It is a very interesting story of a kind I find is growing on my as a reader. I am all for fantastic scifi with technology that defies our current understanding of physical laws. However, I think it is really important to look at how current technology will evolve and effect our lives. Cyberpunk, as a genre, does this; eschewing space opera for an examination of the near future.

In results, the protagonist is nervously awaiting the results of a genetic compatibility analysis of her and her boyfriend. The results give percentage chances of the baby's hair color, creative ability and IQ. In a way, it is finding out the baby's sex taken to the extreme. The story creates a dichotomy between the "natural" or old way of having babies and the new test compatibility method, and between just having a baby and loving it no matter what and the idea that children are something to be proud of and invest our genetic material in. It's a very interesting situation and realistic in light of the growing powers of genetic research.

As a naturalist, this is an interesting question. If we are going to pass on our genes, don't we want to give that child the best chance? On the other hand, should we base our relationships and hinge our love on the chance of having a baby who isn't brilliant? Lots to think about here.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Magic with Thirteen-Year-Old Boys

This is a story by Robert Reed from the March 2007 issue of F&SF.

GVG's intro to this story was intruguing. Pretty much anything with a "not for kids" warning catches my interest. Perhaps that will change if I ever get a little one.

In any case, this story fits into a subgenre of fantasy stories similar to many I read in Realms of Fantasy. It is a contemporary setting with magic that is not really ever explained. There was one about long distance runners in F&SF not long ago. In today's story, a group of young boy's find a photo album containing very explicit photos of different women having sex with the same man. The catch is that all the photos span decades but the man never seems to age.

The characterization was clear, if a little trite. There's an adventurous, knowledgeable friend, a "by the book" sheltered friend, and the narrator who is right in the middle. However, I enjoyed the way the story unfolded, including a "meta-story" of the narrator telling the tale as an adult. Also, the frank way the story deals with masturbation, boys and the novelty of learning about sex was refreshing.

Personally, I like to learn a little more about how the magic works, though.

Escape Pod 126

This week's Escape Pod was the story The Sweet, Sad Love Song of Fred and Wilma by Nick Dichario and Mike Resnick.

Mike Resnick is one of my favorites, going back to his novel Santiago. Apparently these guys have an anthology of all the stories they've written together. I will have to look into that.

This story was an enjoyable tale of a pretty plain, boring guy who develops a romance with a "mech" robot "girl." There was a lot going on here, almost a reverse Pygmilion, as their relationship and her level 4 intellect help transform him into a shiny new guy. The sex was well handled and I appreciate the commitment to mature subject matter at Escape Pod.

My basic question though is why guy's always have to cheat? Each individual instance seems to have explanations, but it is getting a little boring to me to have every man in every relationship (at least it seems to me) be unfaithful. Sure it seems like male nature, but as a story-telling device... *yawn*

Nevertheless this was a fun science fiction story with an adult twist.