Archive for the ‘Other People’s Stories’ Category

FF: Moving Along

October 15, 2021
Mei-Ling with Her Nose in a Book

I’ve turned in the proofs of Library of the Sapphire Wind.  Two thumbs up to Libby O’Brien, production manager and coach on how to amend a PDF, who answered so very many questions…  However, between the proofs and losing Sally, this hasn’t been my biggest reading week.

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:

Fallen Into the Pit by Ellis Peters.  Despite the biblical-sounding title, this was actually one of Peter’s contemporary (then) novels, set in the years following WWII.  A dark, gritty tale of ambition, environmental concerns, social change, and racism that speaks to today as much as it surely did at the time it came out.

Saiyuki manga, new translation.  I enjoyed, and was very happy to see in the translator’s notes that my longtime guess as to which was the only mah-jong hand by which Genjo Sanzo could have won the game was correct.  In case you wonder, it was the one Americans call “Thirteen Orphans.”  Yep.  The same one that I used as a book title.

In Progress:

Age of Faith by Will Durant.  Audiobook.  Into the section on medieval science, primary focus, medicine.

Dogtripping by David Rosenfelt.  A non-fiction look at the hassles involved in moving twenty-five dogs from California to Maine.  I’m impressed.  The most I ever moved was six cats, in a small sedan, and that was only from Virginia to New Mexico.

Paladin’s Hope by T. Kingfisher.  The newest of the “Saint of Steel” books—about what happens to a small group of paladins (in a fantasy world, not historical) when their god dies, and they try to rebuild their lives and sense of identity—came out at a perfect time for me.

  Also:

Smithsonian from a couple months back that I’d mislaid.  Some great articles including some of the best coverage of September 11th and its aftermath that I’ve read.

I’ve Lost Another Friend

October 13, 2021
Sally at the Bubonicon Tea

Last Friday, one of my best friends, Sally Gwylan, was hit by a car and killed.

Many of you know Sally’s work, even if you didn’t realize it.  If you’ve read one of my novels in the last ten or more years, Sally was quite likely one of the beta readers.  If you read my new Firekeeper books, Wolf’s Search and Wolf’s Soul, Sally was the copy editor.

Copy editing is one of those jobs that can ruin a friendship.  Last week, I explained that the job of a copy editor is.  Copy edit is when someone goes through the manuscript and nitpicks it to death.  A good copy editor catches little inconsistencies, asks weird questions, and makes certain that how you punctuate is consistent.  The copy editor also puts in notes for the people who will be formatting the book.

Sally was amazing.  She liked the quirks of punctuation rules.  She was patient with my inability to hyphenate consistently.  We had great chats about optional commas.  She loved looking up obscure data points.  I always felt my books were secure in her hands.

Sally was such a talented copy editor that she did copy editing for other writers, including Carrie Vaughn.  So, if you’ve read some of Carrie’s small press works, you’ve also read Sally’s work.  She also work-shopped over the years with many of New Mexico’s writers, and you’ll find her listed in their acknowledgements, too.  One of the things Sally planned to pursue after retirement (she worked for a law firm doing data control) was copy editing and proofreading.  Now she’ll never have the chance.

Oh, and Sally was a writer in her own right.  The same perfectionism that made her a perfect copy editor made her quite possibly the slowest writer in creation.  Nonetheless, she completed and sold several works of short fiction: “Salt” in Infinite Matrix (2002), “In the Icehouse” in Asimov’s (2003), “Rapture, Parts 1 & 2” in Strange Horizons (2004), and “Fleeing Olsyge” in Clarkesworld (2018). 

She also indie pubbed a Depression era alternate history novel called A Wind Out of Canaan, about a runaway from an abusive home coming to the realization that she’s gay.  In her journey, Philippa joins a group of hobos and, while with them, accidentally stumbles onto the fact that there are people from another world on Earth, and that their activities may have a great deal to do with the severe changes in the weather, and some of the political movements of the time.  It stands alone, more or less, but Sally was working on a sequel.

I’m talking about all these dry things because I’m hiding from a grief so huge that, if I admit to it, it’s going to swallow me whole.

Sally and I met over twenty years ago at a party at Walter Jon Williams’ house, sometime in the late 1990’s.  I’d moved to Albuquerque in late 1996.  In 1997, I started my first garden.  I had a lot of questions, and whenever I’d ask one, the one asked would inevitably end with, “I think that’s what I’d do, but Sally Gwylan would know.” 

So, I went up to her, introduced myself, and thus started a discussion about gardens, and weather (especially wind and rainfall).  She did know a lot, having been a market gardener for a while. She also gave me the tubers for my Jerusalem artichokes, known to some as “sunchokes.”  Our garden chats only stopped this week, because she wasn’t here on Monday for our usual call.

We talked about other things, too, of course.  Books and movies.  Gender identity.  Animals, wild and domestic.  Hobby activities.  Each week we blocked out an hour and a quarter for our call.  It was rarely enough.

I also helped Sally build her house, quite literally.  Usually when people talk about building a house, they mean they’ve hired contractors to do so.  Not Sally.  She built hers with adobe mud and straw.  She took living off the grid seriously, but managed a very tidy lifestyle with a solar panel for electricity, water she hauled from town, a composting toilet, and propane for cooking and to run her fridge.

Sally loved figuring out how things worked.  Unlike me, she did her own formatting and cover design for her e-books.  She sewed or retailored (on a treadle machine) clothes for herself.  She built her solar oven.  And the toilet.  And a water-wicking system for her plants.  Many of our conversations were about her building projects.  The most recent was figuring out the most efficient way to do laundry by hand.  (Why?  Because she hated how the machines at the laundromat left her clothes smelling.)  She was delighted to report that a standard salad spinner worked pretty well as a “spin cycle.”

Even in her late sixties, Sally was energetic.  She rescued her cat, Horace, in the middle of rush hour traffic out on I-40.  Horace had been hit, and she got him to the vet.  Later, when one leg failed to heal properly, she sewed him booties to protect his paw.

The picture above is from the Tea at Bubonicon, where she always worked backstage, helping Pati Nagel make tea.  At some point, she’d excuse herself to go participate in one of her other passions, “shape note” or Sacred Heart singing.

Okay…  That’s about all I can manage without breaking down.  Again.  Thanks for listening.

This Year’s Jerusalem Artichokes

FF: Influenced By

October 1, 2021
Persephone Is Contemplative

This week one of the pieces of fiction I read was influenced by the non-fiction I’m listening to.  I bet you can guess which one!

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:

Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie.  The novel that introduced Miss Jane Marple.  Yes.  I’ve read it before… 

A Rare Benedictine by Ellis Peters.  A collection of three Cadfael stories, including a prequel in which Cadfael decides to consider monastic life.

In Progress:

Age of Faith by Will Durant.  Audiobook.  Yes.  I’m back to this.  In the section about monasteries and nunneries.

Chobits by Clamp.  Manga.  Re-read.  This starts off as a Pygmalion story and, takes it much farther.  As is often the case with Clamp, the elaborate, frilly art conceals a dark and thoughtful story, in the case about what it is to be human, what it is to really love.  And what you must be ready to give up to be the one and have the other.

Also:

New magazines have been joined by Smithsonian.  Some great articles in this issue, including one about a prize-winning Japanese saki maker in…  Holbrook, Arizona.  (A location that is probably best known for not being Winslow, Arizona.)

FF: Elsewheres

August 6, 2021
Roary Refuses to Hide

This week, all my reading material is set in places far away, whether in time or in space or in imagination. 

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. 

Recently Completed:

The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers.  The “secret history’ in this novel comes from a combination of events in the lives of several of the most prominent figures in English literature, including Byron, Shelley, Keats, and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.  Read this, and you’ll never read their poetry and fiction quite the same way…

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor.  Audiobook.  Uses some of the same themes as Akata Witch (the outcast who makes a virtue of her difference), but in a very different manner.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor.  Audiobook.  Again, similar themes and plot elements: outcast finds a high-tech artifact, but uses it (and other super abilities) for kind reasons, even if given ample reason for using it otherwise.

A Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson. Translated by Elizabeth Portch.  Realizing I got these out of order, I went backwards.

The Exploits of Moominpappa by Tove Jansson.  Translated by Thomas Warburton.  I don’t like Moominpapa nearly as much as Moomintroll (his son).  He has traits of ego and self-aggrandizement that make him much less appealing.

In Progress:

Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers.  A semi-sequel to The Stress of Her Regard, focusing on the son of characters from the previous novel and his interactions with Christina, Dante Gabriel, and others of the talented Rossetti clan.  I had no idea until I read this that John Polidori was their uncle.  Truth is phenomenally weirder than fiction.  Then, when Tim Powers gives his twist to the material, I end up believing his “secret history.”

The Moomins and the Great Flood by Tove Jansson.  Translated by David McDuff.

Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor. Audiobook. Just started.

Also:

As part of getting new e-book versions of my backlist up, I have finished re-reading Artemis Awakening and am now immersed in Artemis Invaded

FF: Still Rather Mythic

July 30, 2021
Persephone’s Stressful Regard

Looking at this list, I see my reading is quite mythic still.  The Moomin books may not be anyone’s official mythology, but they have that feelings nonetheless.  They’ve been my before bedtime reading because The Stress of Her Regard (which is excellent) was giving me nightmares! 

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. 

Recently Completed:

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers.  Audiobook.  I don’t usually read two books by the same author at the same time, but someone failed to return my print copy of this one, and finding that there was an audio was tempting.  One complaint.  Accents are important in this, as if voice pitch, and, while the reader is good, he rarely gets these right.

The Valkyrie by Richard Wagner, translated and annotated by Frederick Paul Walter.  This new translation is lively and accessible.  Although I know the basic story, I found myself having trouble putting this down.  Illustrated both with modern line drawings and a host of archival material.

Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson.  Translated by Elizabeth Portch.  Probably my favorite.  There’s a magical realism feeling I quite like.

In Progress:

The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers.  The “secret history’ in this novel comes from a combination of events in the lives of several of the most prominent figures in English literature, including Byron, Shelley, Keats, and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.  Read this, and you’ll never read their poetry and fiction quite the same way…

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor.  Audiobook.  So far, I’m liking…  Uses some of the same themes as Akata Witch (the outcast who makes a virtue of her difference), but in a very different manner.

A Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson. Translated by Elizabeth Portch.  Realizing I got these out of order, I went backwards.

Also:

I’m back to working on getting new e-book versions of my backlist up, and so re-reading Artemis Awakening

FF: Mythic Fiction

July 23, 2021
Roary Pokes His Nose in a Good Book

My reading this week is richly indebted to myth and folklore: Arabic, Biblical, Norse, Egyptian, and more.  Although The Valkyrie has become foundation material in its own right, as with the works by Powers, Wagner used mythic as a foundation for a story unique to his own vision.   

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. 

Recently Completed:

Declare by Tim Powers.  I’ve only read this one once, and I know a lot more now about the time period in which it is set.  The problem with secret history/alternate history as a form, is if you don’t know what’s being played with, you miss some of the fun.  This was good but had an atypically detached narrative voice that (based on a comment within the book itself) was clearly intended, but I don’t think served the material well.

In Progress:

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers.  Audiobook.  I don’t usually read two books by the same author at the same time, but someone failed to return my print copy of this one, and finding that there was an audio was tempting.  One complaint.  Accents are important in this, as if voice pitch, and, while the reader is good, he rarely gets these right.

The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers.  The “secret history’ in this novel comes from a combination of events in the lives of several of the most prominent figures in English literature, including Byron, Shelley, Keats, and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.  Read this, and you’ll never read their poetry and fiction quite the same way…

The Valkyrie by Richard Wagner, translated and annotated by Frederick Paul Walter.  This new translation is lively and accessible.  Although I know the basic story, I found myself having trouble putting this down.  Illustrated both with modern line drawings and a host of archival material.

Also:

I’m debating whether or not to renew some magazine subscriptions…  I don’t seem to have time to catch up…

FF: Powering Up

July 16, 2021
Roary Says: “I Declare!”

This week I’m immersing myself in the weird worldview promulgated in the fiction of Tim Powers.

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. 

Recently Completed:

Legion by Brandon Sanderson.  Audiobook.  This is a compilation of three novellas that are so interdependent that I don’t think the third would have the same impact if you hadn’t read the first two.  First is good, often funny.  Second has more complex plot, quite good.  Third is much darker, but has a fairly satisfactory conclusion.

In Progress:

Declare by Tim Powers.  I’ve only read this one once, and I know a lot more now about the time period in which it is set.  The problem with secret history/alternate history as a form, is if you don’t know what’s being played with, you miss some of the fun.

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers.  Audiobook.  I don’t usually read two books by the same author at the same time, but someone failed to return my print copy of this one, and finding that there was an audio was tempting.  One complaint.  Accents are important in this, as if voice pitch, and, while the reader is good, he rarely gets these right.

Also:

Finished the most recent issue of Smithsonian

FF: Writing to the Editor

July 9, 2021
Persephone Contemplates the Evolving Nature of the Hero

Remember how I complained last week that an article in Smithsonian mispresented Albuquerque?  It ended up bugging me enough that I wrote a letter to the editors.  I’ll let you know if they choose to print it.

Maybe if they don’t, I’ll post it here!

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. 

Recently Completed:

The Quest for Theseus by A.G. Ward (editor and author).  A heavily illustrated (with photos of art, coins, etc.) look at how the myth/legend Theseus of Theseus evolved, and how different time periods seized on different aspects of the story.  Five authors contribute material, with Anne G. Ward contributing the bulk.  Much enjoyed.

In Progress:

Legion by Brandon Sanderson.  Audiobook.  This is a compilation of three novellas that are so interdependent that I don’t think the third would have the same impact if you hadn’t read the first two.  First is good, often funny.  Second has more complex plot, quite good.  Third…  I’m still listening to it, but it’s gotten very dark and very scary, in part because the author has done a good job of making me care about his characters.

Also:

Two issues of DreamForge Anvil.  This is a new iteration of the magazine once known as DreamForge.  It’s sort of a hybrid between a fiction magazine and a writer’s workshop.  Behind the scenes looks at editor’s notes and author response are available, and some articles deal with the craft of writing.  I’m only reading the stories, and glancing at the editor’s notes.

The stories are not as strong as those in DreamForge, in part because many are shorter, and many are “beginner” pieces.  However, this does not mean they are weak, and as with all stories, your reaction may be different from mine!

FF: And Now

July 2, 2021
Baby Quail

In this photo, a baby quail marches happily across the gravel in our front area. You may need to look carefully, as he is not much bigger than the gravel!

This is one of the about a dozen chicks (featured with their dad in this week’s WW) who have been delighting me and Jim.

I’m happy to announce that I’ve finished the revisions to Aurora Borealis Bridge, the second of my forthcoming “Over Where,” series.  While I catch up on various and sundry jobs, I’m feeling a bit more ambitious about my reading.

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. 

Recently Completed:

Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayer.  My library doesn’t have this as an audio, so I pulled this one off my reading shelf.  Many people dislike because it’s “mystery light,” but I love the language, and the focus on the characters.

Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie.  Audiobook.  Poirot doesn’t appear until toward the end, making me wonder if Christie was encouraged to change a “stand alone” into a series book.  Either way, he does a good job.

In Progress:

Legion by Brandon Sanderson.  Audiobook.  Just started.  I rather like Sanderson’s opening author’s note.

The Quest for Theseus by A.G. Ward (editor and author).  A heavily illustrated (with photos of art, coins, etc.) look at how the myth/legend Theseus of Theseus evolved, and how different time periods seized on different aspects of the story.  Five authors contribute material, with Anne G. Ward contributing the bulk.  I’ve dipped into this, but never read cover to cover, and am looking forward to it.

Also:

Back issues of Smithsonian.  I’ve reached the current one, and enjoying, despite a very annoying misrepresentation of Albuquerque that implies it owed its relative stability to the arrival of the railroad, when it had been in place long before.

FF: When An Author Is Too Good

June 18, 2021
Mei-Ling’s No Fool

When, this past week, I finished In the Frame by Dick Francis, I decided to try another of his novels.  However, the one we chose started out with a liberal dose of tension, including shouting matches, profanity, and both physical and vehicular violence.  I couldn’t take it, so I’ve put it aside for a time when my life is a bit less unsettle. 

Sometimes an author is too good at what they do!

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. 

Recently Completed:

In the Frame by Dick Francis (Really by him, not by his son, Felix).  Audiobook.  I’m a sucker for stories that feature art, and the author’s note about how he came to write this one was fascinating.  Enjoyed very much.

In Progress:

Fool’s War by Sarah Zettel.  Future SF with intelligent AI characters.  Would be done, but my reading time this last week got traded for other things a couple of times.  It still holds up very well.  Recommended.

Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers.  Audiobook.  I could probably recite parts of this one along with the reader, but that’s okay.  Ian Carmichael does a brilliant job.

Also:

Not much.  This last week really wasn’t my own, and when it was, I wrote.