FF: What Happened Or Why?

January 27, 2023
Persephone the Friend-Shaped

A couple of the books I’ve read recently have held few surprises for me by way of major details, but while for one this made the plot a bit flat, for the other it didn’t matter.  This has had me musing as to why the difference, and I’m not really sure.  Any thoughts?

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss.  Audiobook.  A book oddly lacking in suspense because the characters keep breaking the fourth wall, so weak on plot, although strong on characterization.  Setting is pulp Victorian, with some logical incongruities.

From Sawdust to Stardust: the Biography of DeForest Kelly, Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy by Terry Lee Rioux.  I’d call this one bittersweet.

Excess by H.P. Holo and Jacob Holo.  Monster Punk Horizon Three.  A very short novel (about twenty percent of my e-book was extra material) with lots of action, hyped-up descriptions, and some very personable characters.  For a book about hunting monsters, it’s very friend-shaped.

In Progress:

Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  From reading the Miles books, I know much of the “what happened,” but I’m finding the details of the “how” more than enough to keep me interested.

Dinner at Deviant’s Palace by Tim Powers.  Before he became renowned as the master of “secret history” tales, Tim Powers wrote this strange take on post-apolcalyptic LA.  I haven’t read it for years, but I’ve been sucked right in.

Also:

Finished the latest Smithsonian and a copy of the Berkshire magazine I got as a freebee.  The latter is like reading life in an alternate world in some ways.

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Twenty-Six!

January 25, 2023
Roary Guards the Years

Today is Jim and my twenty-sixth wedding anniversary.  Not too bad for what was for both of us a later-in-life marriage.

Depending on the weather, we’ll either go wander around the zoo, or go out somewhere indoors and look at things.  Jim has a very associational memory, and the best way to get him telling stories is go somewhere and see what we can see, then discover what it brings up out of the depths.

And we’ll probably eat out.  Japanese, I think.  A few years ago, Jim asked a friend who’d lived in Japan where we could go to get authentic, rather than Americanized, Japanese food here in Albuquerque.  Turns out there are a couple of good places, and so a repeat performance seems in order.

Just the other day, someone asked how Jim and I met.  The answer is simultaneously very simple, and somewhat complicated.

We met through the shared hobby of role-playing games.  That’s the simple.

The complex is as follows…  When I moved to New Mexico to live with Roger Zelazny, I told Roger that the one thing I really missed from my old life was gaming.  He said, “George has a group.  I’ll ask him if he knows if anyone is looking for players.”  And that’s how we came to join the group that Jim played with.  (Which, in case you wonder, is also the group that spawned Wild Cards.)

After Roger died, the members of that group were amazingly supportive, up to and including helping me move from Santa Fe to Albuquerque.  In the course of that move, the door of the cabinet in which I kept the TV swung wild and got broken.  Jim felt bad about that, because he’d failed to stop the accident in time, and offered to come over to fix it.

He did, and I offered to make him dinner as a thank you.  When Jim left, I realized that his was the first visit since Roger’s death where I didn’t suddenly get overwhelmed.  We almost more drifted into dating than making a deliberate choice.  I’ll admit, as much as I liked Jim, I had a lot of healing to do, so it was good that he had a field project that took him out of town most of the week.

But one thing was certain, he remained, and remains, the only person who has become part of my privacy.  I’m glad, and I am incredibly grateful as well.

FF: Come By It Honestly

January 20, 2023
Persephone Dreams Hexapuma Dreams

This week I finished reading the mass market proofs of A New Clan (written by me in collaboration with David Weber). The mass market edition will be out in May, right alongside my solo Aurora Borealis Bridge, also in mass market.

My reward for a job well done?  I’ve pulled in the manga of Saiyuki Reload, the Burial Arc from out outdoor library, because I want to compare and contrast who the story was handled in the print (manga) form, in comparison to the anime, which I just watched.  Apparently, I come by my English Professor tendencies naturally, since I’m doing this for fun.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

A New Clan by Jane Lindskold and David Weber.  Page proofs for mass market edition. This book was released in June 2022, and is currently available in hard cover, e-book, and audiobook formats

In Progress:

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss.  Audiobook.  A book oddly lacking in suspense because the characters keep breaking the fourth wall, so weak on plot, but strong on characterization. 

From Sawdust to Stardust: the Biography of DeForest Kelly, Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy by Terry Lee Rioux.  I’ve hit the post-Star Trek years.  Interesting.

Also:

Reading the latest Smithsonian.  Almost done.  Some excellent, well-balanced articles in this one.

Triskadekaphobic Beware

January 18, 2023
Coco Contemplates

Why?  This week marks the thirteenth anniversary of these Wednesday Wanderings.

Once again, despite deadlines, deaths, doom, and destruction, I haven’t missed a week.

This year, I’ve been happy to announce the release of three new books: Library of the Sapphire Wind, Aurora Borealis Bridge, and A New Clan (with David Weber).  I’ve also let you know as my backlist releases expanded, most recently with cult favorite, Child of a Rainless Year.  I’ve alerted you to on-line interviews, and where I’ll be showing up in person.

You’ve been among the first to know about upcoming releases, such as the third “Over Where” novel, House of Rough Diamonds, which is scheduled for October of 2023.

And you get to hear about what I’m working on as well.  This week, I’m still immersed in the page proofs for the mass market edition of A New Clan, as well as writing on SK5.

But I’ve also shared my garden with you, including experiments with growing tomatoes in increasingly hot summers.  And my various craft projects.  And sometimes just plain odd things (like the word “triskadekaphobia”).

My non-human co-residents, both ostensibly domesticated (cats, guinea pigs, fish) and ostensibly wild (lots of birds, the occasional rabbit, lots of lizards) have made repeated appearances.  If you want a weekly hit of animal cuteness along with an update about whatever I’ve reading, check out the Friday Fragments.

Oh, and I do talk about writing, especially when some new element occurs to me or someone presents me with a really neat question.  Some past bits on writing are included in my book Wanderings on Writing, which is definitely not a “how to” book, but more in the way of a bunch of short essays talking about various aspects of writing as an art, a craft, and a lifestyle.

This year, I hope to continue along that course… I welcome questions, either on individual posts or about topics you might enjoy hearing me wander on about.  I can’t promise I’ll be able to answer all of them, but I can promise to try.

Now, a little about how Stephanie and Karl made it back to Sphinx, then off to work on those proofs!

Proofs Not Pudding

January 13, 2023
Mei-Ling and Friends

This week part of my reading time has gone into reading the mass market proofs of A New Clan (written by me in collaboration with David Weber). This book was released in June 2022, and is currently available in hard cover, e-book, and audiobook formats. The mass market edition will be out in May, right alongside my solo Aurora Borealis Bridge.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

Scales of Justice by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  I think with this one I have exhausted our library’s collection of Ngaio Marsh as audiobook.

Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  Almost done.  Even better than I remembered it being.

Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher.  Re-read.  Still quite good.

In Progress:

A New Clan by Jane Lindskold and David Weber.  Page proofs for mass market edition

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss.  Audiobook.  I read this when it was first released and on the Nebula ballot.  When I learned there were now sequels, I didn’t remember this well enough to try them without a re-read.

From Sawdust to Stardust: the Biography of DeForest Kelly, Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy by Terry Lee Rioux.  I’m still in the early stages.  At least one chapter seems to be more about Carolyn Kelly (his wife) than DeForest, which is a bit odd.

Also:

Reading the latest Smithsonian

Cabbages Not Kings

January 11, 2023
Two Great Tastes

This week has shaped up busier than I expected, even as I wrote about my busy start of the year last week.  The page proofs for A New Clan in mass market arrived roughly two months earlier than I expected them, and with a shorter deadline.  Deep sigh.

Last week, in my FF, I asked a question.  Several people indicated an interest in my thoughts, and so here they are.  Thus follows my wanderings on how two of Jackson’s more significant omissions to the Lord of the Rings saga in the movies change the emphasis of Tolkien’s original story.

Let me start by stressing that I really liked the movies.  Jim and I saw each one in the theater (and if you know us, you realize that’s a Big Thing).  We bought the expanded versions.  We have watched them several times.

However, we’ve also read the books, both before and—perhaps more significantly—after we’d seen the movies.  The most recent re-read of the novels was actually a re-listen, as audiobooks during several long road trips in 2022.

Background established, here goes.  This time in particular, I felt that two plotlines that Jackson omitted actually changed the story Tolkien was telling in a significant fashion.

The first is the omission of the entire section dealing with Tom Bombadil.  I know some people find Bombadil silly and all that…  Let’s just take that as read.  He plays a very significant role in the novel.  He is the only person to hold the One Ring, put it on, take it off, and it has no power over him at all.  This is not an oversight on Tolkien’s part.  At the counsel in Rivendell, it is suggested the One Ring be given to Bombadil to guard and protect.  This is rejected because he’d just mislay it or lose it.  Again…  It has no power over him.

Even Sam (who is the only other person to give up One Ring) struggles to do so.  Only the fact that he loves Frodo more than he loves the visions the Ring gives him lets him remove it.

Omit Tom Bombadil and the One Ring becomes omnipotent, which changes the entire story.

The second change that Jackson made in the movies that I felt changed Tolkien’s story in a significant fashion is the omission of the Scourging of the Shire and attendant events.  Without this section, where the hobbits take charge of the Shire and associated hobbit territory, including their accepting responsibility for creating the land of pastoral peace they desire, the entire emphasis of the narrative changes.

The “return of the king” changes from a tale of the passing of responsibility from the prior guardians to a new and varied group that includes even the hobbits, to one where the king becomes the new person to run for help to when the going gets rough.  I can’t help but feel that in this context, Frodo’s “it’s too much for me, I’m off to the West” also changes, because we don’t see him stepping in to promote a solution to the problems in the Shire that will include as little violence as possible.  Instead, he’s a beaten soldier with PTSD.

To me, these changes are a pity because there are now generations of viewers of the movie who do not—as Jim and I did, without even thinking about it—fill in the parts from the book that weren’t in the movie.  Tolkien’s tale of learning to take responsibility, even when the challenge seems to be insurmountable, becomes more one of finding a new “parent figure” who will be in charge.

On that note, I’m off to read proofs and do all the other things… 

FF: Into a Story

January 6, 2023
Dandy Dreams

The other day, someone posted the question “What makes you feel better when you are in a bad mood?”  My answer came easily and immediately: I dive into a story.  Not necessarily the one I’m writing (although sometime that), but definitely a story.  Often, it’s a re-read, but it also can be a new book by an author who I trust.  And “story” definitely extends to visual media as well.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

Aurora Borealis Bridge by Jane Lindskold.  Mass market paperback proofs.  I gave this some of my usual “fun reading” time for a variety of reasons, including, honestly, that I’m enjoying it.

DreamForge Anvil, issue ten.  Perfect for before bed, since the stories, while often complex, are strongly character driven.

In Progress:

Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  Almost done.  Even better than I remembered it being.

Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher.  It was there when I needed a re-read.

From Sawdust to Stardust: the Biography of DeForest Kelly, Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy by Terry Lee Rioux.  Recommended by a reader on Charles De Lint’s blog.

Also:

I finished Archeology!  Now the next issue will probably arrive.  Just finished Bioscape, the short magazine from our BioPark (zoo, botanical gardens, and aquarium), and am reading AAA trying to convince me that I want to go on a cruise.

Finally, the Shire has been scourged and Frodo has set sail, and Return of the King completed.  I have some fairly serious thoughts about how what Jackson chose to leave out of his movies (which I did enjoy) completely change Tolkien’s underlying tale.  I could share them in a WW if anyone so desires.

Resolution?

January 4, 2023
Mei-Ling Resolves

Recently, I’ve been repeatedly asked what I’m working on, and if I have any resolutions for 2023…  Here’s something like an answer.

I’ve just finished reviewing the page proofs for the mass market paperback of Aurora Borealis Bridge, the sequel to Library of the Sapphire Wind.  Both will be out in this new format in the first half of 2023.  However, you don’t need to wait.  Copies of the original trade paperback are still available, as is the ebook.

With this job done, I’ll be returning to writing the yet-untitled (longtime readers of these Wanderings will recognize a trend) next book in the Star Kingdom series, SK5, which I’m writing with David Weber.  Our most recent release, A New Clan, came out in June of 2022.

If I have a New Year’s resolution (which I don’t), it’s to get SK5 rolling before the end of January.  That’s when my husband, Jim, is scheduled to have shoulder replacement surgery.  Based on our past experiences (he’s had both knees replaced; field archeology is not kind to the body), Jim will be an excellent patient, and will work hard on his PT, but while he’s doing that, a lot of the jobs he handles around here will fall to me.

I’ve learned that if I have a book up and moving, so that the characters are “talking” to me, I find it much easier to keep writing when there’s an interruption.  I’ve written a bit, but not enough to feel I have built up momentum to carry me though.

There will be other jobs clamoring for my attention, too.  There will be editor’s notes for House of Rough Diamonds, the sequel to Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge.   I’ll be talking more about this as we get closer to its October 2023 release.

Then there will be page proofs for when A New Clan goes into mass market.  (It is currently available as a hardcover, e-book, and audiobook.)

Y’know, the New Year is just a few days old, and I’m already behind! 

FF: Getting Back

December 30, 2022
Coco Is Shorter Than Even a Goblin

Jim and I went to Arizona for the Christmas weekend.  On the road, we listened to an audiobook of Return of the King, starting where we left off this summer, as the Riders were heading for Minas Tirith.  We’re nearly to the end, and the Shire is being scourged.   If we get a little more time on the road, we’ll finish it.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

When in Rome by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Over time, Ngaio Marsh gently expanded his protagonist’s beat from homicide to uncovering espionage (especially during stories set in WWII), and later to investigating the narcotic trade.

Swordheart by T. Kingfisher.   I needed both to laugh and to be absorbed in the plot.  T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon) is one of the rare writers who can do both for me.

Nine Goblins by T. Kingfisher.  Novella.  My only “complaint” about this is that it could have been longer. 

In Progress:

Aurora Borealis Bridge by Jane Lindskold.  Mass market paperback proofs.  I’m giving this some of my usual “fun reading” time for a variety of reasons, including, honestly, that I’m enjoying it.

DreamForge Anvil, issue ten.  Perfect for before bed, since the stories, while often complex, are strongly character driven.

Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold.  Audiobook.  I read this one a long time ago, long enough that all I remember is enjoying.  Bujold is an excellent example of an SF writer who starts with an idea, and then examines the idea with an emphasis on its implications for three-dimensional characters.

Also:

The latest issue of Archeology, and assorted short articles.

Jingle All the Way

December 28, 2022
Jingles in the Holiday Forest

Wishing you and yours a very happy winter holiday, however you celebrate it, even if you don’t!

I’ll be back with more to say in the New Year.